We often get questions about making false statements and the legality of searches, among others. Here are answers to two popular questions.
Q. Why do false statements – made before or during a court-martial – cause so much trouble?
A. Making a false statement is a separate crime for which you can, and most likely will be charged. One of the best ways in which you can help yourself when asked by your command or investigators to make a statement is to simply not make one, at least until you have consulted with a military attorney – you will be glad you did so in a court-martial. You do retain this right of refusal. If you make a statement when asked to do so, authorities will have a statement at which they may point to suggest that you have lied.
Q. Investigators want my permission to search my home and/or personal belongings. Should I grant them this access?
A. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits illegal searches and seizures of your property. You have two options. You can either (1) refuse their request (if it is a request), or (2) waive that right by granting authorities permission.
If they are indeed just asking your permission, it may be because they do not have enough information to secure a search warrant to gather the evidence for a possible court-martial. Even though they may explain to you the relative ease with which they can get a warrant, it is possible that they are deceiving you. Simply put, the best policy is to not grant permission and require them to get a warrant. No matter how intimidating they may be, do not believe them if they tell you they will go easier on you in a court-martial if you give them permission to search, as they do not have the authority to make that promise. The prosecutor in the court-martial is the only one capable of making decisions such as those.
If you or someone you know is currently faced with the issues addressed above, please call William Cassara toll-free at (888) 288-3347 to discuss what options are available. Mr. Cassara has over 20 years of experience in military law and stands ready to provide authoritative military legal advice on issues ranging from courts-martial to discharge upgrades.