In the United States and across the world, the right to remain silent is one of a suspect's most valued and essential rights. The suspect can refuse to comment during an investigation or a court room, remaining silent when questioned and not speaking on his or her own behalf. Additionally, this right usually includes a stipulation that the judge or jury is not allowed to make negative comments about the suspect's silence or to infer that the suspect's silence indicates that they are guilty. However, you might wonder if this right applies to investigations and court-martials in the military as well. Do military members have the right to remain silent?
Do Military Members Have the Right to Remain Silent?
Yes, members of the U.S. Armed Forces are given the right to remain silent by the foundation of military law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). You will find the details in Article 31:
a. No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any questions the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.
b. 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.
c. No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to make a statement or produce evidence before any military tribunal if the statement or evidence is not material to the issue and may tend to degrade him.
d. No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement, may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.
All military personnel must use this article as a framework when acting as an investigator or interrogator for the military.
If you are a suspect in a military investigation or under court-martial, it is important that you know these rights and use them. So if an investigator begins asking questions, know that you have the right to stay silent. Investigators are eager for you to confess, after all, and under the guise of “gathering information,” they may try to push you toward a confession.
During your trial, you will also have the right to testify or remain silent. If you don't speak, your silence cannot be held against you.
Finally, remember that you have the right to counsel, so before you speak to anyone, hire and consult with an attorney. If you're looking for a top-quality military lawyer, contact Newsom & Gapasin. Whether you're under investigation or facing a court-martial, our experienced and aggressive law firm would be happy to help. We focus on winning tough cases, some of which have been reported on by national media outlets like CNN, Fox News, Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. For more information, please give us a call at 1-(888) 919-8265 , send an e-mail to [email protected]-defense.com, or click here to contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!