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Err on the Side of Silence in Your Court-Martial: Say NO To Statements

Posted by Ernesto Gapasin | Aug 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

The most common question I get from people facing a court-martial who call me is whether or not they should give a statement to law enforcement (i.e., CID, OSI, NCIS or CGIS). My response is almost always the same whether it's an interrogation or even a commander's a command investigation – don't give a statement. As much as everyone wants to tell their side of the story in order to avoid a court-martial, I rarely see it being very beneficial to those who end up giving a statement. The fact is, giving a statement generally harms their case in the long run.

A statement harms their case not just because things can be taken out of context, but once you give a statement to law enforcement, you immediately box yourself in to potential testimony and defenses down the road in your court-martial trial. You can be completely upfront and truthful about what happened, but now, all of a sudden you get charged and your statement has completely boxed you in. No matter what you do or say in the future, or what your witnesses may say, the statement you give in an interrogation could be contradictory. Once you're facing something like this, your case is considerably different from before and it can be much harder to win, especially with a false confession or admission. Giving a statement now to try to clear your name is a course of action that can severely limit your ability to testify on the stand, and it can even hurt your chances of winning motions that your court-martial lawyer can file for you if charges are preferred to a court martial.

It's almost always better not to give a statement of any kind to law enforcement. Once you do give a statement, you can completely change how your court-martial attorney handles your case and how your attorney can approach the case.

The best course of action when feeling compelled to give a statement is to simply say:  “I want a lawyer”, and nothing else.  Your commander may order you to NCIS, CID or OSI. If so, you still don't have to give a statement under Article 31, UCMJ. Just say it:  “I want a lawyer”. They may conduct arrest procedures. So, they might take DNA samples from you. They might take your photo and your fingerprints, but you do not have to give them a statement.

If you are in a position where you are currently under investigation, the best course of action is simply to err on the silence and NOT give a statement.  Reach out to your court-martial lawyer. There are definitely times when I heard a particular fact scenario and made a determination that giving a statement was in that case, the best course of action -- but this is very rare! So, at this stage of the investigation, err on the side of silence and do NOT give a statement.  

Handling the early stages of an investigation is crucial. There are proactive methods of handling an investigation early with the intent of getting it dismissed. If you want to know how to proceed, call Ernesto at Gapasin Law Group, LLC, at 1-(888) 919-UCMJ (8265) for a No-Cost Consultation.

About the Author

Ernesto Gapasin

Attorney

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