As a service member, when you are accused of committing a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), or under civilian criminal laws, an investigation may occur. Whether you are investigated by your command (command investigation) or by a criminal investigative agency (e.g., Army CID, NCIS, Air Force OSI, Marine Corps CID), you are often asked to answer questions or make a statement about the alleged crime. This information can and will be used against you in any criminal case that follows. Criminal investigators use a variety of interrogation techniques to convince you that it is in your best interests to answer questions or make a statement. Criminal investigators may try to convince you to “get ahead of the situation,” or that “you get a chance to tell your side of the story,” or that they “will talk to the prosecutor for you.” Criminal investigators are simply trying to build a rapport with you so that you will give evidence against yourself that strengthens their case. It is always a better idea to speak with an attorney first.
Everyone has heard the words Miranda rights, either on television or in the movies. Miranda rights apply before talking to criminal investigators, like “the right to remain silent” and “the right to an attorney.” Criminal investigators must inform you of these rights before you answer questions or make a statement ONLY IF you are in custody, which usually means under arrest or detention.
In the military, you actually have more rights with regards to answering questions. Article 31(b) of the UCMJ requires that a service member be read his “Article 31(b) rights” whenever he is suspected of a crime and questioned about it. Article 31(b) rights are similar to Miranda rights but custody is not required. Therefore, you must be read your Article 31(b) rights even if you are questioned over the phone. And it does not matter whether the person asking the questions is from the service member's command or a criminal investigator – Article 31(b) rights apply whenever questioning is related to the investigation of a crime. You should always ask for an attorney BEFORE agreeing to answer questions or make a statement.
Contact the lawyers at Harris & Carmichael, PLLC at 703-684-7908 promptly to address your legal matter.