Few organizations investigate their personnel with the frequency of the military. The list of the potential types of investigations is lengthy. I've been increasingly seeing this question. "I am under investigation by the military, do I need a lawyer?"
There are many types of investigations in the military:
-Command investigations initiated by the commander- AR 15-6, JAGMAN, Commander's Inquiry;
-Criminal investigation - CID, NCIS, OSI, CGIS, etc;
-Inspector General's investigation;
-Equal Opportunity investigation
-Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss; and,
-Line of Duty injury investigations.
Many service members often wonder exactly what rights they have when under investigation. First, you always have a 6th Amendment Right to Counsel under the Constitution. It is always going to be wise to obtain a consultation from a civilian or military counsel (if they will help). That does not mean you have to hire a civilian, but it is wise to examine the cost-benefit analysis of retaining counsel. Our firm is very candid during initial consultations. If you do not need a lawyer, we will tell you not to expend funds on a lawyer. It's a luxury of being a successful firm - we are not going to aggressively sell you on retaining the firm. If you need help, we will tell you and you can decide.
Second, rarely is it in your interest to make statements without consulting with counsel first. Unless you are an experienced lawyer, you don't know what you don't know. The potential collateral consequences of administrative or criminal actions in the military are significant, potentially expensive, and can be life long. We have had the benefit of decades of practice where we have seen nearly every type of case resolved. We have also seen the long-term consequences.
The next question is usually what can a civilian attorney accomplish. It's simple. A civilian attorney can:
-Advise you of the procedures involved in the investigation;
-Advise you of your rights;
-Advise you of which rights to exercise (to cooperate or not to cooperate);
-Advise you of the potential outcomes of the case;
-Advise you of courses of action (for example, accepting or refusing nonjudicial punishment);
-Communicate with investigators or government lawyers on your behalf;
-Investigate and interview witnesses and obtain statements if necessary;
-Provide written response or rebuttals to investigators or government lawyers on your behalf; and,
-Defend or appeal against any adverse actions.
Often the value in an attorney is in the initial stages to get you through the anxiety and uncertainty of a military investigation. We often find that it helps enormously to work with an attorney to create a gameplay or strategy for protecting your interests. Having a firm by your side that has experience with your type of case can help.