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Article 31, UCMJ

Under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ,) if a person on active duty with the U.S. military is suspected of committing a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they have the following rights:

A. THE RIGHT to be informed of the specific offense(s) he or she is suspected of committing.

B. THE RIGHT to remain silent; that means to say nothing at all.

C. THE RIGHT to an appointed military attorney free of charge before answering any questions.

D. THE RIGHT to obtain a civilian attorney of the person’s own choosing, at that person’s expense.

E. THE RIGHT to consult with an attorney and to have a lawyer present during any questioning.

F. THE RIGHT to terminate an interrogation at any time.

G. THE RIGHT against self-incrimination.

  1. I am always amazed at how often my clients speak to CID, NIS, OSI or their command after being read their rights. You cannot help yourself by speaking to the command or the police. KEEP QUIET. Speak to a lawyer before speaking to the authorities.
  2. If you are suspected of committing a crime, and are read your rights, speak to no one except your attorney. Co-workers, friends etc can all be called to testify against you. Co-accused and co-workers will turn on you. If the police tell you somebody else has already told them you confessed to them, do not believe them. The police are allowed to lie to you to get you to confess, and they will promise you anything (such as “I will tell your command to go easy on you”) in order to get you to make a statement.
  3. Speak to an attorney before speaking to anyone else. I have never had a client help themselves by speaking to the command or investigators first. Never. And you won’t be the first. .
  4. The investigator is better at his job than you are at fooling him. He or she will trip you up and get you to say something, anything, to incriminate yourself, INCLUDING LYING TO YOU.
  5. Article 31, UCMJ is designed to protect you, by giving you the right to remain silent. Take advantage of it. Know your Article 31 rights. DO NOT SPEAK TO THE AUTHORITIES WITHOUT FIRST SPEAKING TO AN ATTORNEY. INVOKE YOUR RIGHTS. SAY “I DON’T WANT TO SAY ANYTHING. I WANT A LAWYER.”

If you have already made a statement to your command or to investigators, don’t give up. I have obtained acquittals in cases where my client confessed to the crime. But don’t speak to them again, and don’t try to “clear things up” without speaking to me first.

I served six years on active duty in the Army JAG Corps and 16 years in the Army JAG Corps reserves. I served as a prosecutor, defense counsel and as appellate defense counsel. For more than 20 years, I have represented service members of all military branches in courts-martial, appeals of court-martial convictions, military discharge upgrades, administrative separations, security clearance matters, records correction, and all other areas of military law. While my background is with the Army, I have appeared in Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard courts. I am intimately familiar with all the service branches, and the subtle differences from one branch to another. While all courts-martial are governed by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, there are differences between how each branch operates at court-martial. Mr. Cassara knows those differences. In addition, I have appeared before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals and the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. In other words, I have represented members of all services at courts-martial and on appeal of court-martial convictions.

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