Please remember that you may and should choose to remain silent and speak with a lawyer even if your leadership is asking questions that seem focused on trying to determine what is going on. It is important to know when you can even be asked about potential misconduct.
In the military, a rights warning is required if you are suspected of wrongdoing, with limited exceptions. This is different than the civilian world where the police only have to read you your rights after you are in custody and being interrogated. . Congress provided this additional protection for Servicemembers in Article 31(b), UCMJ. Here is what the law says:
(a) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any question the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.
(b) No person subject to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from, an accused or a person suspected of an offense without first informing him of the nature of the accusation and advising him that he does not have to make any statement regarding the offense of which he is accused or suspected and that any statement made by him may be used as evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.
(c) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to make a statement or produce evidence before any military tribunal if the statement or evidence is not material to the issue and may tend to degrade him.
(d) No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.
Put simply, military law enforcement or leadership must read you your Article 31(b) rights if they want to talk to you about any suspected wrongdoing. Many leaders may unintentionally violate this rule. For example, your commander may say, “Hey, heard your name mentioned by legal, what’s going on?” You must know your rights and respectfully say, “Sir/Ma’am, I have been told by a lawyer not to talk about any of this.” This will help you and keep the military for misusing or misconstruing your statement.
Being a former service member herself and working exclusively on military cases, Ms. Stewart has amassed experience to help in the following areas of the UCMJ:
When faced with the decision of hiring a UCMJ specialist, Ms. Stewart’s former clients explain all that is necessary about her commitment to their case and her expertise in handling the toughest legal battles. Learn more about her unique abilities in the words of her clients, peers, and military judges.