Under the Fifth Amendment, civilians have the right to protect themselves from compulsory self-incrimination. In the seminal ruling in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Supreme Court ruled that if a person was under custody (that is, they could reasonably believe that they could not leave the interrogation), they must be read their Miranda rights. You hear this everywhere on tv. To Mirandize a civilian is to tell them that they right to remain silent, that they have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning, and that the court will appoint one to them if they cannot afford one. Things work just a little differently for military service members accused of a crime by military authorities.
The Differences Between Miranda Rights vs. Article 31(b)
Similar to this, the military has its own version entrenched in Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), with three main differences:
What You Need to Know
Article 31(b) provides that:
No one may interrogate or request any statements from you unless these criteria are met.
If you ever find yourself being interrogated, you may feel pressured to answer to a superior or a higher ranking official. They may try to get you to say anything, in fact. If this happens, do not say or write down anything. Be clear that you wish to have an attorney present, and that you wish to exercise your Article 31(b) rights
Investigators are not your friend. They are there to draw information from you and use it against you in any way if you are a suspect. Of course, do not lie if you do speak to them because that will only worsen the situation.
It is of the utmost importance that you call an experienced attorney if this ever happens to you. The most important rule you should always remember is to never talk to anyone without an attorney present, and that you should call one right away. We hope this blog helped you answer any questions you may have about Article 31(b) and your rights. We at Military Justice Attorneys are ready to work with you any time, so call us at (844) 334-5459 if you ever find yourself in this situation.