As a member of the United States military, it is important that you know your rights as delineated in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ.) While all of these rights are incredibly important, it is essential that military members are aware of their article 31 rights. Here’s how article 31 of the UCMJ protects military members against compulsory self-incrimination. If you require assistance, Military Trial Defenders are ready to help.
“You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say can and may be used against you in a court of law. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.” Most people have heard these warning statements and the others that accompany them on television shows such as Law and Order. Known as the Miranda Rights, these warnings inform individuals of their right to avoid self-incrimination during custodial integration. The police are required by law to express these rights to the accused upon arrest. Given this information, the accused can then decide whether or not they desire to make a statement to the police.
Article 31 Rights
The Uniform Code of Military Justice offers members of the military the right to avoid self-incrimination as well. In many ways these rights provide more protection than the Miranda Rights. While Miranda Rights are expressed during custodial integration, at the UCMJ article 31 rights must be given to a military member any time he or she is being questioned by a commanding officer because of a suspected offense.
In accordance with article 31(b), “no person…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.”
At the time of questioning, military personnel must be informed as to the nature of the offense they are suspected of. They must also be informed how their statements or testimony can be used against them in a military trial. It is incredibly important for military members to be aware of article 31. This is because any self-incriminating evidence that is collected in violation of the article 31 rights cannot technically be used as evidence in a trial.
Defend Your Rights
Military personnel serve selflessly to defend their country, but they must also take care to defend their personal rights. The purpose of the Uniform Code of Military Justice is to promote justice in the military establishment, protecting members of the military and strengthening the national security of the United States. Article 31 is an indispensable component of the UCMJ rights. If you believe your article 31 rights have been infringed upon, contact the lawyers at Military Trial Defenders for legal counsel as soon as possible. Your rights matter – let us help you defend them.