Family Advocacy (FAP)
When a complaint is made of physical or sexual assault within the family it is not unusual for you to be called into FAP to give “your side of the story.” They should advise you that you do not have to make any statements.
My advice is to simply say ‘no’ you won’t make any statements until you have had the chance to talk with a civilian or military defense lawyer. FAP cannot force, order, coerce, or ‘encourage’ you to talk to them. This is a difficult situation and the tendency is to want to defend yourself, please avoid doing that until you have talked with a military defense lawyer.Why Does This Matter?
When you are a suspect, anything you say to FAP can be used against you by your commander for the purposes of all types of adverse actions: denying access to classified information and revocation of a security clearance, adverse counseling’s, Article 15, UCMJ, punishment, or court-martial. The information is not generally privileged.
It is true that they will tell you they are trying to get the facts to help. But, in my extensive experience, they are not actually doing this to help you. Even if they are trying to be fair and honest, it’s not going to work out that way. That is because they are biased or predisposed against you and in support of your spouse or other family members—it is the other's welfare FAP is primarily concerned with. When they say they are there to help--well, that’s not the way it works out in practice.
Your information will be used with everything else they have to come to conclusions about whether the allegations are founded or not. An adverse finding prejudices you from then on. For example, they will submit the file for consideration to a committee of themselves as well as members from the law enforcement agency and the legal office for consideration. Of course, that information then becomes available to law enforcement and the prosecution if there are adverse actions to follow. Your words may then show up as evidence against you or for a charge that you lied to FAP.
I agree, that if you remain silent, as I think you should, FAP will view that adverse to you—but—but they don’t have your words to use against you later. Many times, the suspect has sought to put their side of events forward to FAP, yet the process is such that they will likely be disregarded and at times used against you.
There are some limited circumstances where it may be helpful to present information to the FAP for consideration. And here is where you are better served by seeking legal advice first. The military defense lawyer can assess the situation and give the best advice on continuing to remain silent or, if appropriate, presenting information to FAP. Depending on the nature of the complaint it is sometimes possible to work out a solution where the parties agree to individual and group counseling, marriage counseling, parenting counseling and similar alternatives to adverse actions.
These cases can get very emotional and difficult to resolve. Maintain your calm and composure.