Client Advice: Initial
I am a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Ohio. Therefore, anything you tell me is covered by the attorney-client confidential communications privilege. This privilege means that I cannot and will not disclose anything you tell me to anyone else. I will only do so if you gave me permission to do so; even if you were to confess a crime to me, I could not be required to disclose that information to anyone and would not voluntarily disclose that information to anyone.
Other than a chaplain, or similar type clergy, NO ONE ELSE has any similar confidential communication privilege with you. Therefore, anything you say to any of the following individuals could be used against you.
- Congressional representative! You are protected from retaliation under 10 U. S. Code §1034, from retaliation in contacting your members of Congress. However, any statements you make to them may be used as evidence against you. See United States v. Gogas, 58 M.J. 96 (C.A.A.F. 2003)
- Spouse under some circumstances. There is no spousal privilege if your wife or her children are alleged victims of your alleged misconduct
- Doctors, nurses, or other health-care workers
- Psychologists and counselors. SACO, ATF, or anyone in the substance abuse treatment field.
- Anyone in the Family Advocacy Office.
- Any other civilians or military personnel. This includes your friends, roommates, co-workers, supervisors, your first sergeant, etc. Anything you say to them can be used against you, and probably will be.
Your right to remain silent is an ABSOLUTE right. If you choose to exercise your right, no one can in any way hold that against you. It cannot be commented on in a court-martial, nor can you be given any additional punishment because you exercise your rights.
Remaining silent is NOT an admission of guilt. Even if you are or believe you are not guilty, I still advise you to remain silent.
You have the right to have an attorney present DURING ANY QUESTIONING. Even if you have already made some oral or written statements, you can still claim your right to remain silent from now on. In other words you can revoke any prior waiver for future interrogations or interviews.
BE AWARE - DANGER! Do not accept or engage in any phone calls or meetings with any alleged victim, co-actor, or others. Investigators frequently try "pretext phone-calls." These are traps.
You can be required, and ordered, to go to an appointment at mental health, substance abuse counseling, or the Family Advocacy Office. If you are so ordered, then you MUST go to such an appointment, or you can get in trouble for failure to obey a lawful order.
However, you CANNOT be required, or ordered, by any commander, supervisor, doctor, counselor, etc., to say ANYTHING to ANYONE once you are at any of these appointments. The one exception is for what is called a "706 Board." Such Boards are privileged.
Call me or you military counsel immediately if you are told to go to any appointment.Obey any no Contact Orders
If you accidentally come into contact with someone on an MPO (at the Exchange for example), leave immediately. Also, immediately let your senior supervisor know.Maximum Sentence Possible
The possible maximum punishment you could be exposed to depends on whether you are at a Special or General Court-Martial, and the offense(s) of which convicted. The types of punishment are as follows.
- Punitive discharge; either Dishonorable or Bad Conduct. A court-martial cannot adjudge an administrative discharge
- Forfeitures of pay and allowances
- Hard Labor Without Confinement
- Letter of Reprimand
- No punishment
You have the right to a detailed defense counsel at no expense to you.You may ask for another military attorney by name and if that attorney is reasonably available, he/she will be detailed to represent you, at no cost to you. But if you do request specific military attorney and your request is granted, you do not have the right to have the first attorney remain on the case. You must specifically ask this of the administrative command.
As your civilian attorney I am lead counsel. As lead counsel I make the decisions, except whether you plead guilty or not guilty; what type of trial; and whether or not you testify. This will be explained in more detail as we prepare our case.Questions
You will have questions or concerns. Do not wait to ask or voice your concern. It is far better to ask a question now than after trial. I make every effort to keep you informed and consult with you on the decisions we have to make. But don't assume that either I or your military counsel have thought of everything. I have always found that military counsel and clients can help by asking questions, offering ideas, and making suggestions. It is your case - take an interest in the case; stay in touch; do your homework; be attentive. As a general rule I ask you to use email to avoid playing phone-tag, and it helps us both keep notes. We can set times to talk in person.Rules of Engagement
I will give you my Rules of Engagement; study them and follow them.Course of Trial
I will give you an outline of how your trial will proceed. I will also give you a script that is used for what is called the arraignment. Study both.Service of Charges
After your commander refers your charges to a court-martial, you will get a copy of your charge sheet. You have the right to three (3) (SPCM) or five (5) (GCM) full days between the day you get your copy of the charge sheet and the day you first appear in court.
You are not required, and should not, make any statement at the time of service. Signing for the charges is NOT an admission of guilt or waiver of any right.