Investigations

When your command, the military police, or NCIS/CID start asking questions

Types of Investigations

After your command learns of an alleged act of misconduct, they will normally initiate an investigation. Investigations can take on many forms depending on the type and severity of the alleged misconduct. Minor acts of misconduct might be handled internally at the command through either a preliminary inquiry or a command investigation. In these types of investigations, the commanding officer appoints a member of the command to do some investigation, generate a report, and make recommendations. More severe misconduct might be reported to the base magistrate or military police. The more serious, felony type offenses will be referred to investigative agencies like the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Army Criminal Investigation Command (Army CID), Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), or Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS).

They want to interview me, what do I do?

No matter the type of investigation, if your command, the military police, or an investigator suspects you of a crime and attempts to question you, they must first ensure you understand your rights under Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Under these rights, you are not obligated to answer any questions that would cause you to incriminate yourself and you have the right to request the presence of a defense attorney during the questioning. It is almost always in your best interest to both remain silent and consult an attorney. You can always invoke your right to remain silent, consult with an attorney, and then go back to cooperate with the investigation if you and the attorney decide that is in your best interest.

When interacting with an investigator, it is important that you understand that they are allowed to lie to you. They are allowed to tell you witnesses saw you do something when no such witnesses exist or to tell you your DNA matches the DNA found at the scene of the crime when it doesn't. Given that they can lie and manipulate you in the interrogation room, it is no wonder that many of the cases where a servicemember is found guilty involve some sort of confession or admission that occurs in the interrogation room of NCIS, AFOSI, or Army CID. But it doesn't have to be this way. If you are read your Article 31(b) rights, simply say that you are electing to invoke all of your rights. That will include the right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney; this should terminate the interview. In many cases, when a servicemember invokes the right to consult with an attorney, the investigator then lies and says something like, "well you have the right to do that, but its 1930 so there probably isn't anyone in the office and I'm not really sure how to get ahold of one." The servicemember then typically acquiesces, gives up and continues the interview. A few hours later there is a recorded confession or admission that damages the defense case. Do not fall for this trick. Invoke your rights and do not speak with anyone until you speak to a lawyer. If it is too late and there are not any military attorneys on duty, stick to your guns and the investigator should let you go until you have the opportunity to speak with an attorney on the next duty day.