Unfortunately, one of the more common questions that we receive in our consults with potential clients and even answering questions for people who become our clients is how long can CID keep a case open.
The unfortunate answer to that is as long as it takes. In some extreme examples, we’ve seen investigations last several years and the entire time that person who is the subject or the suspected individual for that offense or offenses, they remain flagged that entire time. That means they cannot PCS. They cannot ES or ETS. They cannot leave the service because they’re allowed to be extended past that time, as long as CID and the command has an eye toward some type of a criminal UCMJ prosecution. More commonly, we see investigations last anywhere from about six months to 12 months is fairly common in terms of how long they have.
There is no set time. There is no limitation. Unfortunately in most, if not all cases, there is no (what we call) there is no right to a speedy investigation. Sometimes you’ll hear in the news, or maybe you’ve read articles because you’re really trying to find answers. You’ll hear that there is a right to a speedy trial. Please do not confuse that with a right to a speedy investigation. A person’s right to speedy trial comes from many sources, but it does not begin until one of a few events occurs. The most common and the easiest to point to is when the person becomes officially and formally charged. That’s not when that person has been brought into CID. A lot of people get confused about that. They think why I have been charged, you know, I was read my rights. They told me these are the offenses that that I’m named for.
That process is not charging. An official charging comes under the UCMJ after a commander has sworn to that they have a good faith belief that you have committed the offenses. And that comes from a DD form 458, until you have received that formal DD form 458, you have not been charged. And so your speedy trial rights don’t begin then in the military, there are additional rights of speedy trial that have different triggers other than just that formal charging. The most notable one is if that person has been placed into pretrial confinement, if their Liberty has been restricted to such an extent that it is tantamount to confinement anyone with questions about whether or not they have that right to speedy trial, whether or not that’s begun. That’s a very easy answer for us. Once we can get a few specific facts from you, feel free to reach out, but again, in terms of whether or not, or how long CID can keep a file open, the real answer is as long as it takes. Now, that does not mean that the person needs to sit there in languish forever. Our firm becomes involved in a number of investigations. That’s actually when we prefer to become involved. So that we can at different points, if it’s in that person’s interest help to move the process along, or at least to understand and manage the expectations of the person who’s under investigation, where do we think they’re going next? Because we also sometimes realize that maybe a little bit of time is helpful to us. Because we want to be conducting a parallel investigation, realizing that CID does often not look into the same leads that we would. Because they’re not looking to defend you. They’re looking to convict you. CID can keep cases open essentially without check, without anyone asking on your behalf for as long as it takes.
Jocelyn Stewart is a UCMJ court-martial attorney who specializes in defense of allegations of sexual assault for all branches of the military worldwide.
Contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 1-888-252-0927.
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