Attorney Jerrold Bodow Educates Military Personnel on What to do if Accused of a Crime

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San Diego attorney Jerrold Bodow, of Coastal Legal Center APC, lists the top three tips for military personnel charged with a crime who are requested or ordered to talk to a military investigative service.

Attorney Jerrold Bodow

Just like civilians, you have the right to remain silent.If the authorities want to speak to you, it is probably because they are looking for more evidence against you or someone you know in order to get a conviction.

The military has its own justice system, its own judges and its own rules for conducting investigations. “This can pose a significant problem for military personnel under scrutiny for, or charged with a crime, as many don’t understand the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” said attorney Jerrold Bodow, President of Coastal Legal Center APC and a civilian criminal defense military lawyer.

For military personnel charged with a crime who have to talk to a military investigative service, Bodow lists the following three tips:

No. 1: Do not talk to the police or government investigators. “Just like civilians, you have the right to remain silent,” stressed Bodow. “If the authorities want to speak to you, it is probably because they are looking for more evidence against you or someone you know in order to get a conviction.”

Bodow also advises to never voluntarily hand over one’s cell phone or other electronic devices. “Make them get an order from your command or a search warrant,” he added. “They will then later have to show they had sufficient reason to seize it. If you give them permission, you are giving up that issue in court. You have no obligation to give them your access codes. Do not do it. If they ask you to, demand to speak to an attorney. This invokes your 5th Amendment right to remain silent. Allow your attorney to deal with that issue in front of a judge. Once they get into your phone anything they find is fair game, even if it has nothing to do with what they are looking for.”

No. 2: Ensure Article 31(b), or Miranda rights, are given. “Any authority must tell you the charges for which you are being investigated,” noted Bodow. “That information is often on the top of the rights form.”

No. 3: Do not sign the part of the form agreeing to talk. “The rules of engagement allow them to lie to you, and they often do,” concluded Bodow. “They may tell you somebody else pointed the finger at you, or they have recordings of you saying something incriminating. They are allowed to tell you any other information they think will make you talk to them, such as this is your best chance to get a better deal on the case. Investigators cannot make binding deals with you. Only JAG prosecutors and their superiors have that authority. If you lie to them about anything, or if you tell the truth and they think it’s a lie, you will be charged with making a ‘false official statement’ regardless of whether they charge you with the offense they believe you have committed.”

About Jerrold Bodow, Coastal Legal Center APC
Jerrold Bodow represents people in the areas of criminal defense, courts-martials, and military administrative proceedings, such as administrative discharge boards. He holds a “BV distinguished” rating with Martindale-Hubbell, a peer rating organization, and the highest ranking available, a 10.0, with AVVO.com, another lawyer rating organization. For more information, please call (888) 828-7548, or visit http://www.coastallegalcenter.com. The law office is located at 501 West Broadway, Suite 1340, San Diego, CA 92101.

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