If read your Article 31(b) rights, should you ever speak to military investigators?

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The short answer is NO.  Also, don't be confused about what can be used against you later at disciplinary, legal, or administrative hearing.

Any statement - whether written, spoken, or even gestures - can be used against you at later time.

Congress gave you Article 31b, UCMJ (it's a federal statute!).  Use it.

Article 31b applies when servicemembers are suspected by military authorities of committing crimes and military authorities are investigating the alleged crime.  Article 31b provides, “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.”  It's more expansive than the civilian version, commonly known as Miranda Warnings, because Article 31b applies whether or not you are in custody (or have been apprehended in military terms).  Article 31b applies, for example, if your immediate supervisor wants to question you about your failure to report for duty on time or if NCIS wants to question you about whether you had nonconsensual sex with a fellow Sailor.


Most investigators - whether law enforcement or appointed by the command - will use a form such as DA 3881 -Rights Warning Procedure/Waiver Certificate.

What do I do if read my Article 31b rights?

Permit the investigator to review your rights with you.  As soon as you have stated that you understand your rights, tell the investigator CLEARLY that you want to speak to a lawyer before answering ANY questions.  Only an unambiguous and unequivocal invocation of your rights has to be honored.  Resist attempts by investigators to convince you it is best to "tell your side of the story;"  it's not.  As defense attorneys know, "No one who talks, walks."


But I am innocent!

Even if you believe you are innocent of the allegations made against you, investigators are trained to obtain "admissions" that can later be used against you.  These are not a confession to a crime, but facts that investigators hope to show that either you are not being truthful or to corroborate what the complaining witness told investigators to bolster the complaining witness' credibility.


 Only after speaking to an experienced military law attorney should a servicemember waive his or her Article 31(b) rights and speak to military investigators.


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