10 Rights You Have During Command Investigations From Army Regulation 15-6

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Today more than ever, careers are being derailed by spurious allegations.

When those assertions do not reach the purview of military law enforcement, the command will initiate an inquiry or even a full investigation. What happens in the military investigation process can mean the difference in continuing or not. These investigations play a crucial role in whether the derailment will be temporary or will sideline you completely, even potentially resulting in your exit from the Army. These investigations are governed by Army Regulation 15-6, which lays out the procedures to be followed when conducting inquiries into allegations of misconduct or other matters affecting the Department of the Army. Understanding your rights during these investigations can significantly impact the outcome and how you navigate the process. Here’s a comprehensive 10-part checklist derived from AR 15-6, detailing your rights during command investigations.

1. Right to Be Informed (Para. 1-4e)

You have the right to be informed of the allegations being investigated. This ensures transparency and gives you the opportunity to prepare your defense adequately.

2. Right to Remain Silent (Para. 5-2b(4))

AR 15-6 upholds your right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. It’s crucial to understand that you do not have to make statements that could be used against you in the investigation. And if it is in your best interest to make statements or to answer questions, you should only go at it with the help of experienced counsel, so you do not walk into the trap of implicating issues you did not anticipate.

3. Right to Counsel (Para. 5-2b(4)(a))

You are entitled to seek legal counsel. Whether you choose a military or civilian lawyer, having professional legal advice can guide you through the investigation process.

4. Right to Present Evidence (Para. 3-15b)

You can present evidence on your behalf. This includes documents, pointing the investigating officer to favorable witness testimonies, or any other electronic material relevant to the investigation that can support your case.

5. Right to Know the Investigating Officer (Para. 2-2)

You have the right to know who the investigating officer (IO) is. The IO’s objectivity and qualifications are essential for a fair investigation.

6. Right to Challenge the Investigating Officer’s Impartiality (Para. 2-1b)

If you believe the IO is biased or has a conflict of interest, AR 15-6 allows you to challenge their appointment. If the IO has a bias, this is something to leverage in either having the IO removed or in later challenging any derogatory findings.Ensuring impartiality is key to a fair investigation.

 7. Right to a Hearing (Para. 3-13)

Under certain circumstances, you are entitled to request a hearing. A hearing can provide a formal setting to present your case more comprehensively.

8. Right to Call Witnesses (Para. 3-15)

If you are at a formal and complete hearing, you have the additional right to call witnesses to provide testimony that supports your position and undermines alleged misconduct. This right ensures you can substantiate your defense with firsthand accounts.

9. Right to Review the Investigative Report (Para. 3-18)

Before any derogatory findings from a report can be used for adverse action against you, you also have the right to review it for factual accuracy and provide comments or objections; it is vital in ensuring your perspective is considered.

10. Right to Appeal the Findings (Para. 6-8)

If you disagree with the investigation’s findings, AR 15-6 outlines your right to appeal, offering a chance to contest any conclusions you believe are unjust.

Navigating Command Investigations

Understanding these rights within the framework of AR 15-6 empowers service members to navigate command investigations with confidence. It’s not just about knowing these rights but actively exercising them to ensure a fair and balanced approach to resolving allegations. Here’s how to leverage these rights effectively:

Stay Informed: Keep abreast of every development in the investigation. Knowing the specifics of the allegations against you enables you to mount an effective defense.

Seek Legal Advice: The importance of legal counsel cannot be overstated. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney who has the time and energy to give your case can provide crucial guidance on how to exercise your rights effectively.

Document Everything: Maintain records of all communications, submissions, and evidence related to the investigation. This documentation can be invaluable, especially if you need to appeal.

Communicate Carefully: Be mindful of your communications during the investigation. We urge our clients to only provide answers in written statements or verbal testimonies should be carefully considered, preferably with legal advice.

Assist Your Lawyer: Engage in the process by providing potential answers for your lawyer to review, reviewing the investigative report, and submitting your suggested comments or objections to your counsel to help ensure your side of the story is fully represented.

Conclusion and Call to Action

Command investigations can be daunting but knowing your rights under Army Regulation 15-6 gives you a roadmap to navigate this challenging process. When you’re facing allegations, understanding these rights is paramount.

If you’re currently facing investigation or anticipate one, consider reaching out to legal professionals who specialize in military law. Our firm is committed to ensuring that service members’ rights are protected and upheld throughout the investigation process. Let us help put you in the best possible position to protecting your career, and allow us to guide you in what to do if you are facing military investigation. Consider setting up a time to schedule a consultation for guidance and support tailored to your unique situation. Let us help alleviate some of your stress.

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