Do not talk to your supervisors if you will be admitting a crime…know your rights!!!

Imagine you have attended a barracks party, you drank underage and you ended up having what you believed to be consensual sex with a female.  The next day, you report to your supervisor as ordered and he begins drilling you with questions about what happened at the party and what you did.  You have to answer the questions, right??  Wrong!  I know it sounds absurd and unnatural that you should refuse to answer questions from your enlisted supervisors, commanders or anyone else in charge of you, but the fact is you absolutely should refuse based on your Article 31 rights.  Article 31 rights are unique to the military.  These rights apply if someone subject to the UCMJ (like your uniformed supervisor) suspects a servicemember of a crime.  So in the scenario above, you might be suspected of drinking underage or sexual assault.  Therefore, under Article 31, your supervisor must 1) inform you of the crime you are suspected of committing, 2) your right to remain silent and 3) that any statements you make may be held against you.  If you are not read your rights prior to such a questioning, the statement you make should not be used as evidence against you and should be suppressed at your court-martial.  Recently, in U.S. v. Samir Zubair before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA), a Soldier appealed his case because the military judge at his court-martial failed to suppress a statement he made to his commander without having his rights read to him first.  ACCA agreed that the military judge erred in not suppressing the statement.  The appellant received some relief in his sentence based on this and other issues in his appeal.  If you or your loved one has done something wrong and his military supervisors or investigators are trying to ask questions about what occurred, invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney or advise your loved one to do so.  Then, pick up the telephone and call me immediately.  The consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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