‘When We Assumed The Soldier, We Did Not Lay Aside The Rights Of The Citizen.’ – General George Washington
You have many of the same rights during a military criminal investigation as civilians, including protections from illegal search and seizure, self-incrimination and the right to counsel. In fact, in some areas, military personnel have greater rights.
If you are a U.S. service member under investigation for a criminal or disciplinary offense, and you have already made a statement implicating yourself, don’t give up hope. All is not lost, and any statement that was made in violation of Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) may be ruled inadmissible.
More Than 20 Years Of Experience As Military Lawyer
Phillip Stackhouse, Attorney, has more than 20 years of experience representing members of the U.S. Armed Forces and civilian contractors under investigation for criminal offenses. In 2006, he retired as a Marine JAG officer and opened a law firm serving military members facing courts-martial or administrative separation hearings for a violation of UCMJ regulations.
Were You Coerced Into Making A Statement?
Commanders have a lot of power in the military system. It is not unusual for enlisted men and women or commissioned officers to feel compelled to admit guilt or involvement, when being questioned by their commanding officer. You may feel compelled to answer incriminating questions without fully intending to. Sometimes, coercion is so subtle that you may not even recognize it. Some common examples of coercion include:
- Offers of leniency
- Use of sleep deprivation
- Use of food and water deprivation
- Stretching interrogations for six or more hours
If you believe that someone in a position of power coerced you into making a statement, a lawyer may be able to call the statement into question or even have it disregarded.
Greater Protections Than Civilians
As a member of the military, you have many of the same constitutional protections as any citizen. In fact, in some circumstances, service members have more protections under military law. When you are on a military installation, you do lose the right to refuse some searches and inspections. But when it comes to making a statement about a charge or allegation, you have more protection from self-incrimination than your civilian counterparts. For example, you have the right to be read your Miranda Rights at the time of your questioning, whereas civilians need to hear them only if they are detained. If the person interviewing you did not read you these rights, your attorney may be able to have your statement thrown out.
The Power Of Article 31
For civilians, the Fifth Amendment and “Miranda Rights” protect against self-incrimination, but normally don’t attach until after arrest. Under Article 31, UCMJ, you have protection from the moment a command investigation has begun, and you are suspected of an offense under the UCMJ. By contacting our attorney as soon as you can, you can fully protect your rights and your career.
Free Initial Consultation
If you have made any statements during an investigation of any kind, you need the help of an experienced military lawyer immediately. Our initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose. We represent clients from the bases in California and worldwide. Call our San Diego office at 760-456-5386 or use our online contact form.