If you read Accused Of A Crime, (part 1) you saw some of the personal impacts of being accused of a crime. Now, let’s take a look at some of the underlying details affecting to your case. Military members, just like civilians, hold certain rights under military law. For example, a service member must be advised of their legal rights at the time of initial questions, whether or not they are arrested.
This advice referred to as “Article 31” is virtually the same as the Miranda Warnings given in the civilian world. Every jurisdiction has its own wording but they are all essentially the same. Military members have the right to remain silent and not make any statement while they must be informed of the general nature of the offense of which they are suspected. Military members are entitled to legal guidance during any questioning – just like a civilian being able to obtain a public defender. As a 45+ year practitioner of the law enforcement and military arena, my guidance at this point is to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. I’ve written articles about why this guidance is important and what some of the issues are and will publish them again in one of these blogs. Stay tuned.
Investigations are very intimidating, but knowing how the system works can help you move through the process as swiftly and confidently as possible.
If you’re accused of a crime under the UCMJ, you’re entitled to be assigned a defense attorney by the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps at no cost to you. Free is a very attractive price. Not only can you obtain a military lawyer at no cost, but you can also hire your own civilian lawyer. This civilian lawyer will cost you but having two heads working on your behalf is better than one.
This is not the time to be guided by or to make decisions solely because of cost. This decision will follow you the rest of your life is you choose the wrong approach.
I’ve seen the combination of military and civilian attorneys works very well and I recommend that kind of team composition. I think you will find that adding a good civilian attorney to the team provides a definite benefit, much like have a good investigator does.
The civilian attorney (who usually has plenty of military experience in their background) and the investigator are not influenced by the military hierarchy. Yes, we still have to abide by the protocol and the decorum of whatever court we are in, but we don’t defer our representation of a client just because of that person’s rank or position. If you are my client you get 110% effort. We call it like it is. If someone is wrong in their interpretation of detail we are going to tell them so.
Another problem with using a military lawyer is that they are like civilian public defenders. There’s a lot on their plate and they may not be able to give you all the attention that you deserve. This is not something to be taken lightly. It’s your future and your freedom that’s at stake.
Consider the benefit of having a full team on your side rather than a part-time advocate.
Additionally, you will find that a professional investigator is worth their weight in gold. There are few investigators that have experience working inside the military community and even fewer that are dedicated solely to defending UCMJ related cases. Based on my research I am the only investigator that works solely for military members charged under the UCMJ.
Other investigators may have worked military-related cases but they also work on other cases and UCMJ related cases are not their main clientele.
The attorneys that I work with have seen the benefit of using our services and they insist that their clients engage us. I, too, can promise it is to your benefit to hire an investigator that knows and has had experience in the military investigative arena. I can show you cases where I have found flaws and errors in process in the investigative reports by military investigators and those have resulted in ‘not guilty’ verdicts or cases being dismissed because of those investigative errors.
If we can be of assistance or answer any question, please call for a free consultation. I’m not a lawyer and won’t address legal questions but I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
** If you have a case and are not sure if an investigator can help or contribute to your case, contact us for a free review. **