How Military Miranda Differs From Civilian

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Messy military lawyer here. Today’s public service announcement involves when military law enforcement is advising people in the military of their rights under Article 31B. Even though it’s an advantage that military members are getting oriented to the offense of which they are suspected, unlike in the civilian world in Miranda, they don’t have to tell you what it is they suspect you of.

They can bring you in under suspicion of murder, but they don’t have to tell you and they can make you believe and mislead you into thinking it’s about a hit and run or that you were seen maybe shoplifting, right? Like they can absolutely lie to you in the military, they actually have to orient you sufficiently so that you can appropriately decide whether or not you want to waive your rights. But what they’re doing is that they are advising people of the most severe on that scale of whatever the offense is.

For instance, under Article 120, maybe somebody suspects you of grabbing somebody’s butt, which might be an abusive sexual contact. Or if it’s not sexual, maybe just an assault. But they’re advising you for the most severe, they might say rape, or they might say sexual assault. Because they want to make it sound as bad as possible. So, that you can be encouraged to want to talk to them. Give them a statement so you can minimize whatever it is that you see, like if they said, tell you rape, you’re like, oh my gosh, no, I didn’t have intercourse with this person. I only grabbed their butt. Oops. There you go. You’ve made an admission. So don’t succumb to their tactics where they’re trying to advise you and make it sound worse than what it is that you’re actually suspected of. Messy military lawyer.

Jocelyn Stewart is a UCMJ court-martial attorney who specializes in defense of allegations of sexual assault for all branches of the military worldwide

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