Quick Overview Of What A Military Suspect Should Know

Posted by Ernesto Gapasin | Oct 04, 2023 | 0 Comments

When a suspect in the military is arrested, they should be aware of several important considerations and concerns.  Don't confuse what happens in State Court with what happens in the military.  Military justice systems have their own unique processes and rules. Here are some key things a military suspect should be concerned about:

1. Article 31 Rights: In the U.S. military, suspects have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney during questioning, similar to civilians' Miranda rights. It's crucial to exercise these rights and avoid self-incrimination.  In many cases, evidence will be suppressed if Article 31 rights are denied to a military suspect.
2. Military Legal Representation: A suspect has the right to be represented by military defense counsel.  This is similar to being represented by a Public Defender in the State Court system. If the suspect prefers, however, they can also hire a civilian attorney at their own expense. This goes for State Courts as well, some will much prefer to retain their own experienced, civilian counsel as opposed to a randomly assigned free lawyer who may be new to the process.
3. Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): Military suspects should understand the UCMJ, which is the set of laws and regulations governing the military justice system. It includes offenses specific to the military, such as AWOL (Absent Without Leave) and failure to obey orders.
4. Consequences of a Conviction: Military convictions can result in a wide range of consequences, including imprisonment, fines, dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank, and loss of benefits. A conviction under an Article 120 sex assault charge can also result in the military member having to register as a sex offender in their home state.  Sex offender registration is a collateral consequence of a court-martial conviction that is a life-changing event.  Understanding these potential consequences is essential.
5. Pre-Trial Confinement: In some cases, a suspect may be placed in pre-trial confinement while awaiting trial. It's crucial to understand the reasons for confinement, rights while in confinement, and how to request release.
6. Investigation Process: Understand how military investigations work, including the role of military law enforcement (such as the Military Police or Naval Criminal Investigative Service) and how evidence is gathered.
7. Courts-Martial: Military trials are called courts-martial. There are different types of courts-martial, including summary, special, and general courts-martial, each with varying levels of authority and consequences.
8. Legal Defense Strategy: Work closely with your military defense counsel or civilian attorney to develop a strong defense strategy. This may include gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and challenging the prosecution's case.
9. Administrative Separation: Depending on the circumstances, a military suspect may also face administrative separation proceedings, which can result in discharge from the military with various characterizations (e.g., honorable, general, or dishonorable).
10. Chain of Command: Understand the role of your chain of command in the legal process. Your commanding officer may have input into the decision to prosecute, so maintaining open communication with them may be important.
11. Victim's Rights: Be aware of the rights and concerns of any alleged victims in the case, as their testimony and statements may play a significant role in the proceedings.
12. Discharge Upgrades: If a suspect is convicted and receives a less than honorable discharge, they may have the option to seek an upgrade to their discharge characterization through a separate process.

It's crucial for a military suspect to seek legal counsel promptly, exercise their rights, and fully understand the legal processes involved in their case. Being informed and prepared can help protect their rights and interests throughout the military justice system.  If you are under investigation or the accused in a military court-martial, submit the "Contact Us" form at Gapasin Law Group, LLC and we will reach out to you for your no-cost consultation.

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Ernesto Gapasin



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