YOUR RIGHTS UNDER MILITARY LAW
There are important rights that every military member has. It is our experience that frequently, members do notknow their rights, and do not exercise them because they do not understand how critical they are. By doing this, they often put themselves in legal jeopardy, hand the government evidence it is not entitled to, and compromise the later defense of their case.
These rights include:
- Article 31 rights. When a military member is suspected of an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, another military member (or military investigator) who wants to question them for purposes of investigation or disciplinary action must advise the member of the rights under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This includes the right to be advised of the general nature of the offense of which you are suspected, your right to remain silent, and the consequences of giving a statement. While not part of Article 31, you also have the right to counsel (under the U.S. Constitution) and must be advised of that right as well. If a military member invokes the right to remain silent or the right to counsel, all questioning must stop.
- Consent. Military members cannot be forced to consent to a search of their person or property. Consent must be voluntary. If investigators obtain the appropriate search authority based on probable cause, or if the search is part of an inspection, a search may be conducted without your consent.
- Pretext Phone Call. If you are under investigation, a technique that the military investigative services sometimes use is called a pretext phone call. For example, in a rape case, they may ask the alleged victim to call you and attempt to elicit incriminating statements from you while the investigators listen in on the call. You do not have to talk about your case. This is one of the many reasons why defense counsel often advise their clients to talk to no one except the client’s attorney about the case. Those statements may later be used against you at a later court-martial proceeding or other disciplinary action.