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Is there an equivalency to the Miranda Rights under military law?

You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney …

Most readers scanning those words know immediately what they attach to and the context in which they are uttered.

They are of course part and parcel of the rights accorded a criminal suspect in the famous Miranda Rule that operates in the civilian criminal justice system.

Is there something similar that prevails in the military pursuant to the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

In fact, there is, with an online overview of suspects’ rights in the military stating that the protections established against self-incrimination in the armed forces are “in many ways superior to those provided a defendant in civilian criminal courts.”

Although scholars will of course debate the details of such an assessment, there is no question that relevant provisions set forth in the UCMJ do carve out suspects’ rights that are unequivocal and that kick in even earlier than they do in the civilian system.

The Miranda Rule, for example, takes effect from the moment authorities’ questioning of a suspect is deemed to be a custodial interrogation. Conversely, military law holds that protections against self-incrimination commence even prior to the onset of any questioning.

Moreover, a civilian suspect has free access to an attorney only upon a showing of indigency. All military members have a right to free military legal representation.

Military law closely tracks the civilian legal process in some ways and, as noted above, can be clearly differentiated in important respects.

Any servicemember or DOD civilian employee with questions or concerns about any aspect of a military criminal investigation can obtain prompt and accurate answers, as well as diligent representation, from an experienced military defense attorney.

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David P. Sheldon | International Military Law Attorney

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