In this series on the difference between court-martials and civilian cases, we look at the different processes military and civilian defendants face in asserting and protecting their rights.
The most decorated servicemember can find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Regardless of the criminal accusation, military personnel has the same “innocent until proven guilty” rule as those charged in civilian court. Different approaches apply to each type of court proceeding.
First and foremost, advising a suspect of their rights is employed in military regulations and civilian law. For non-military suspects, Miranda rights must be communicated to an individual in custody before being questioned about a suspected crime.
Conversely, the military’s Uniform code takes a more proactive and protective approach to potential criminal matters. It mandates that personnel undergoing questioning by another military member be advised of their Article 31 rights, particularly when they are acting in an official or law enforcement role.
Protections for suspects
In addition, the suspect is not required to be in custody. The code serves as a twofold protective measure, particularly for those taught to adhere to the military chain of command. It is also in place to protect military members from law enforcement seeking to exploit their obedience to higher-level authorities if only to secure statements that may be considered incriminating.
The smallest suspected infraction can have catastrophic consequences to a military career. Securing the services of an attorney with comprehensive knowledge of applicable law is paramount to ensuring the best possible outcome.