When you have been charged with a crime in the military, it’s really important that you understand your rights. Unfortunately, many people think that they know what they are entitled to, but have only heard a number of myths that have been passed along. Here are 5 important misconceptions about defending a court martial.
Myth 1: A court martial is designed to be fair.
Truth: While we like to think that this is the case, the defendant always faces many challenges. While the government’s resources are practically unlimited, the same can’t be said for the defendant. Generally the defendant has one attorney, while the government has two prosecutors assigned at a court martial. Though the government can select practically any expert witness to help its case, the defendant is obligated to receive the government’s approval in order to pay for these defense experts. Furthermore, should a defendant lose at trial, it’s even more unlikely that an appellate court will overturn the decision.
Myth 2: A he-said/she-said argument can’t be proven.
Truth: Although you may think that a he-said/she-said argument can’t have any real winners, all it takes is for the accuser to be believed by the court. However, there are different types of evidence that can be used to corroborate your story, such as:
- Phone records
- Eye witnesses
- Hearsay witnesses
- Security videos
- Cell phone activity
The most important thing you can do to defend yourself is to show how all of the available evidence can be used to paint a picture of your innocence.
Myth 3: If civilian authorities dropped the case, the military can’t take it.
Truth: Often times, civilian authorities hand over jurisdiction of certain cases to the military. Even if the civilian authorities have dropped the case or found it to be unfounded, this doesn’t stop the court martial from prosecuting it. This is because both entities have separate standards that must be met.
Myth 4: It’s best if you just talk.
Truth: If you remember nothing, then remember that what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. This is the first right that you are read when you are arrested – and with good reason.
The whole point of an interrogation is to obtain a confession. Interrogations are not designed for the purpose of helping you to get out of trouble. If anything, they often result in getting you deeper into trouble. Even if the investigators tell you that they just need enough information to determine whether the case should go forward, talking is not your best option. At least not without first consulting a qualified Court Martial attorney. This is especially important, as much of what you say can be twisted to suit the prosecution’s case – whether or not it’s warranted or valid. If you are not free to leave, tell them that you want to speak with a lawyer immediately before continuing. Be sure that you don’t say something vague, like, “I think I want to speak to a lawyer” or “I think I need to speak to a lawyer.” This often isn’t enough to provide you with protection. Demand that you speak with an attorney immediately. It’s your right.
Myth 5: A guilty-sounding statement requires you to plead guilty.
Truth: Sometimes, despite our better judgment, we make statements or respond to certain things in a manner that we regret. Sometimes you may feel that you said something that sounded as though you have incriminated yourself. However, you could still have a chance of winning your case. In fact, those interrogating you are often trained to trick you into confessing – even if what you said wasn’t intended as one. Therefore, with the right attorney, you can explain what you said and plead your innocence.
The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.
If you are a military service member (active or reserve) and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!