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Military Investigation
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Military Investigations

If you are under military investigation by NCIS, OSI, CID, or CGIS, it is very important for you to know your rights . You should ask to speak to a lawyer immediately and refuse to consent to any search until you have spoken to a lawyer. The Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Coast Guard do not provide servicemembers with representation by a defense counsel during the military investigative stage. Obtaining the advice of a civilian military defense attorney can help you make the best choices to protect your rights and give you the strongest chance of success.

Here is some information to help you understand the process and what to expect.

Military Law Enforcement Agencies

Each military service has its own military law enforcement agencies.

  • Navy and Marine Corps: Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)
  • Air Force and Space Force: Office of Special Investigations (OSI)
  • US Army: Criminal Investigations Division (CID)
  • Coast Guard: Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)

These agencies investigate what we typically think of as “felony-level” offenses, such as drug offenses, sexual assault, homicide, child endangerment, domestic violence, and BAH or DTS fraud. They also investigate terrorism and engage in counterintelligence operations.

There are agencies that investigate lower-level offenses, such as minor drug offenses and driving under the influence.

  • Navy and Marine Corps: Master-at-arms and Provost Marshal’s Office (PMO)
  • Air Force and Space Force: Security Forces Investigations (S2I)
  • US Army: Military Police (MPs)

How is a military investigation conducted?

An investigation starts when someone reports an offense under the UCMJ. The report can be done by an alleged victim, a witness, or a mandatory reporter. When the report is made to a law enforcement agency, the agency decides whether there is an offense within their jurisdiction to investigate. If there isn’t, they refer the complaint to the appropriate agency or back to the command for a command investigation. If it is something they can investigate, they open a case.

Command investigations are discussed below. The rest of this guide will address investigations by NCIS, OSI, CID, or CGIS.

The first step is usually to interview the alleged victim or the person who made the initial report. After that, investigators will determine what other witnesses might need to be interviewed, then conduct those interviews. They will also collect physical evidence for any testing that may need to take place, such as hair samples, a “rape kit”, or DNA. The labs that can conduct testing include the Defense Forensic Science Center (DFSC), the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL), and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES).

When will I be interviewed?

When you’re suspected of an offense by NCIS, OSI, CID, or CGIS, they will have someone from your command bring you in for an interview without telling you why you’re going there. For a sexual assault case, the interview usually happens relatively quickly after the alleged victim interview.

What happens during a suspect interview?

Before you are questioned about anything of substance, the Special Agents may use tactics to get you to feel comfortable talking to them. They may ask you about your favorite football team, talk to you about your children, or ask you what hobbies you have. This is called rapport building. It is designed to get you to drop your guard.

They will then read you your rights under Article 31(b) [HYPERLINK]. They will take the following steps:

  • Identify themselves as a Special Agent and identify what agency they belong to
  • Tell you the offense(s) you’re suspected of
  • Read your rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present

The agent only needs to tell you the nature of the accusation against you. They are not required to get into the details of the alleged offense before you choose whether to invoke your rights.

If you ask them for more information about the nature of the allegation, they may tell you they need you to fill out the form first and say things like “we just want to hear your side of the story.” This is designed to get you to waive your rights.

They may also tell you things like “we don’t have a dog in this fight” or “we’re just here to get the facts, put them in a report, and give them to your commander.” Remember – everything you say will be held against you. An investigation is not neutral.

Special Agents may also tell you this interrogation is your one chance to give your side of the story. This is designed to pressure you into providing a statement without first consulting with an attorney.  Investigators and commanders will still want to hear your statement even after you have consulted with an attorney.

Many people are shocked to learn that Special Agents are authorized to lie. They can tell you they have evidence they don’t really have, they can tell you stories about themselves that aren’t true, and they can make any false representation they want to try to get you to make a statement.

You should invoke your right to remain silent, refuse consent, and make a clear request to speak to an attorney. It may be tempting to want to “tell your side of the story,” but if you make a statement during the investigation, it could impact the outcome of your case.

Even if you have already made a statement, there are still many steps that a skilled military law defense attorney can take to get you the best outcome possible. That is why it is important to get a consultation with a military defense attorney.

Pretext phone calls and text messages

Special Agents often use phone calls and text messages from people you know to get you to admit to something that can be used against you later. Be wary of any texts that look suspicious. Special Agents don’t need to read you your rights before attempting to get you to say something incriminating to a witness.

For example, in a sexual assault case, the alleged victim will text you something like “I don’t remember what happened last night,” or “you knew that I was too drunk.” Those questions, and questions like them, are common for a law enforcement agent to use when they’re trying to get you to admit to sexual assault. In reality, your text messages or phone calls with the alleged victim are being recorded by investigators to be used against you.

This can also happen in other cases, such as drugs, larceny, or other offenses. Someone who has become an informant for law enforcement may text you asking weird or awkward questions that seem like they’re trying to get you to admit to something. This should be a red flag for you.

Command Investigations

Commanders and commanding officers are authorized to conduct their own investigations. In the Navy, for example, it is called a “JAGMAN Investigation.” In the Army, it is called a “15-6.” In the Air Force and Space Force, it is called a “CDI” or “Commander Directed Investigation.” A Commander will typically appoint military Investigating Officers to investigate offenses like hostile work environment, property loss or destruction, or other offenses that do not warrant a law enforcement investigation.

Service members have a number of important rights during command investigations, and KMD provides advice and guidance during the process. Because command investigations can result in disciplinary action that can impact a member’s military career, including court-martial, it is important to consult with a military defense attorney early to develop an effective defense strategy.

Other Military Investigations

Steph and Abby have experience defending servicemembers during Inspector General (IG) Investigations, Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) investigations, and any other type of investigation cases. Both attorneys have represented servicemembers of all ranks, including senior officers, in every type of investigation.

Benefits of a Military Defense Attorney during an investigation

Having an aggressive defense early in the process can have a significant impact on the outcome. The benefits cannot be overstated. We talk to our clients extensively throughout the process to determine whether it’s in their best interest to remain silent, or whether it is more appropriate to make a statement early on. We answer any questions that come up during the course of the investigation. The process can be very lengthy and very intense. Oftentimes, our clients are treated like they are automatically guilty, which can be isolating. We are here for our clients throughout the entire investigation.

We individually tailor our advice to our client’s best interest, rather than taking a one-size fits all approach. This is reflected in our results. While we have represented hundreds of clients during the investigation stage, two recent results are indicative of the tailored work we do for our clients:

  • In 2021, a Marine Gunnery Sergeant was accused of sexual assault. After rigorous preparation, Steph walked into NCIS with her client so he could make a statement. He was questioned for several hours while Steph kept NCIS agents in line. After the command received the report, along with his statement and video-recorded interview, the Commanding Officer dismissed the entire case.
  • In 2022, a Navy Petty Officer First Class was accused of domestic violence and harassment. Steph worked to collect and organize nearly 500 pages of evidence refuting the allegations and exposing the accuser’s lies. The evidence was presented to NCIS, the prosecutors, and the commanding officer, and her client was exonerated of all charges. He commissioned later that year.

Get Advice from an experienced Military Defense Attorney

Steph and Abby are both highly-experience Defense Counsel and former Senior Prosecutors, They have been involved in, and advised on, hundreds of military investigations. When they were on active duty, they helped train military law enforcement officers on how to conduct investigations. They know how investigators put their cases together. They can give you advice and guidance about what happens during investigations, what the accusations really mean, and what you should do to protect yourself. The earlier you get us involved, the more likely it is that your case can be resolved favorably. Don’t hesitate to call.

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*Please note, KMD does not handle cases involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability claims, or family law matters.

Found myself in an unfortunate situation where I was in need of a lawyer. Luckily when I did a google search Kral Military Defense was the first website to pop up. If you are willing to fight for your name and career, then look no further Kral Military Defense is who you want on your side. Stephaine and her team are very knowledgeable and professional.
Kral Military Defenses has my highest recommendation! If you are a service member and need an attorney who is responsive, intelligent, and treats you like a person, not just a number. She is the attorney for you.I was on deployment when I needed an attorney. Kral Military Defense took care of my legal affairs while I was out to sea. It was a weight off my shoulders knowing she was handling my situation back home while I was gone.When my chain of command was putting unnecessary limitations on my liberty because of my legal situation. She went above and beyond by contacted my ship and was able to get them lifted.Kral Military Defense was able to resolve my situation with no action taken against myself. If I ever need of a defense attorney ever again I'm 100% coming back to Kral Military Defense.
matthew larason
matthew larason
My local Military Defense Counsel is very short staffed so I had trouble getting a hold of them. Not wanting to wait I contacted Ms. Danielle Espinosa over the weekend and she was able to help review and discuss my response with me before it was due Monday. She was extremely knowledgeable, cut the fluff and told me like it was. I recommend anyone serious about the future of their Military Career to work with this team. Thank you for your help!
When I retained Ms. Kral, I was a nervous wreck. As she worked with me over the course of 18 months, she was compassionate and was able to assure me that I would have a future. Even my command JAG assured me I’d be alright when I hired her. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with my case. Ms. Kral should be your choice if you need a military defense attorney.
Chad S.
Chad S.
Abbigayle Hunter and her legal team, especially Danielle Espinosa, were exceptional! The communication was prompt, professional, and thorough. From the moment we reached out to them, they showed a genuine interest in understanding our case and providing us with the best legal representation possible.Abbigayle Hunter and Danielle Espinosa, went above and beyond to ensure that we were kept informed throughout the entire legal process. They promptly responded to our emails and phone calls, addressing any concerns or questions we had. Their attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the law instilled confidence in us that we were in capable hands.Not only did Abbigayle Hunter and her team provide us with excellent communication, but they also displayed a remarkable level of expertise. They meticulously examined every aspect of our case, leaving no stone unturned. Their dedication and commitment to our case were evident in the meticulous research they conducted, the thorough documentation they prepared, and the persuasive arguments they presented.Abbigayle Hunter not only possessed an impressive understanding of the law but also had excellent negotiation skills. Her tirelessly advocated on our behalf, ensuring that our interests were protected and our rights were upheld. Their ability to navigate complex legal matters and maneuver through any obstacles that arose was truly remarkable.
Rufus Byrd
Rufus Byrd
Stephanie and her team were AMAZING! I found her through a mutual friend and she handled my case with care and compassion. Even her team checked on me, answered all my questions I had, overall she made sure everything was token care of during the ENTIRE process! When she told me “don’t you worry, that’s my job” I truly believe her and in the end she got the results that I am so grateful for! Hopefully I won’t have to go through the process again but if I have to she will most definitely be the woman I WILL call on! Thank you so much Stephanie and Danielle you both made this process a lot less stressful with your knowledge and compassion towards me and my case!!!
Steph and her team worked diligently to ensure all evidence or lack there of was thoroughly examined. Her knowledge and experience within the military justice system gave me piece of mind throughout the process as she was well versed in the way everything played out. My family and I are grateful for the hard work and professionalism displayed by everyone on her team. Thank you!
Jonathon Lynch
Jonathon Lynch
Hiring Steph has been the greatest thing for my career. In the last year alone I have had horrible encounters with my immediate chain of command and twice I had the best outcome given the circumstances. I highly recommend Steph.
Eva Aguilar
Eva Aguilar
Steph was the first and clear choice to handle my ADSEP board. I was facing serious allegations, which she handled with professionalism while keeping me posted along the way. Her expertise in UCMJ matters is second to none. Without her I would have probably lost my retirement benefits.
Called on behalf of a veteran who is terminally ill regarding a discharge upgrade and spoke to their assistant Christian. Christian was so unbelievably rude and spoke to me like I'm an idiot when he was unable to answer the questions I had about their services and the process. The level of disrespect from him totally caught me off guard given the nature of work the office is supposed to be doing. What's more upsetting is the lack of empathy that he displayed during our conversation. Unfortunately, I can't not speak on the level of service from the attorneys since we decided to go with someone else but Christian either needs to undergo more training or he needs to be replaced.
Desiree M.
Desiree M.
Stephanie is very experienced and a great attorney.
Jameel Yusuf
Jameel Yusuf
There are many things that I could say about this particular law firm, but instead of going into the weeds on my particular case, I feel as though brevity would be the best choice here. I was primarily represented by Ms. Abbigayle Hunter, and in short, I believe the representation by Ms. Hunter was above reproach. I couldn’t have asked for a better legal professional to handle the complexities of my particular case. She was transparent, punctual, and actually made me feel as though she was personally invested, despite the fact that she had already been paid for representation. She didn’t sugarcoat hard truths and was very up front about all different aspects relating to my case. It was comforting in a way that she was also a fellow service member, and it made me feel as though she took this case to heart and it added another level of drive to the case. Ms. Hunter has a certain tenacity in the courtroom that I found very refreshing to witness, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone else seeking legal advice. Would actively seek to be represented by her again, though also hoping it’s never needed.
Tim Malikie
Tim Malikie
Outstanding!!!! She's very smart, knows her job, and communicates with you all the time with the best of her knowledge. I highly recommend Kral Military Defense!!!
Jamal Stephens
Jamal Stephens
After my command refused to give me due process, I was lost for words and truly had no where to turn. A shipmate referred me to Steph and it was the best possible recommendation I have ever received. Reliable, expert, professional and overall just a great person. She never lost sight of my case and would check in on me to ensure I was doing good personally. I highly recommend her services to anyone who may have a legal issue. At minimum, request a consultation. I can assure that you will not be dissatisfied!
Vincent Hurtado
Vincent Hurtado
Highly recommend Steph! Thank you for all your hard work and fighting for righteousness. My family and I will be forever grateful!
Selena Hurtado
Selena Hurtado
Great team! After hiring this legal team i was pleased with their work and their ability to go above and beyond resulting in a finding of not guilty.
Tyson Smith
Tyson Smith
Very easy to talk to. Will get you the best outcome there is
I wish you could give more than 5 stars. She deserves 10!! This was a huge decision for our child, but she was worth every penny and more. As a mom I was really concerned about him spending the money on an attorney since you never know what you’re going to get. Our child mentioned this to Stephanie and she called me to answer all my questions. She went above and beyond what was required of her, not just with the phone call but with everything she did. The case went on for longer than we had ever imagined. She never wavered in her dedication. I was honestly shocked at just how hard she worked. If only I could express in words the heart felt gratitude, we feel towards her. She fought so hard and we knew we could trust decisions she made. When ever our child would update us, we would ask what Stephanie thought. We never could have imagined finding an attorney who we trust as much as we trust her. I don’t believe you will find an attorney who will fight as hard for you as she will. I consider her a part of our family and am so very blessed to have gotten to know her. She’s an amazing attorney and an even more amazing human being.
Shelly B.
Shelly B.
Stephanie was a great attorney as well as her team they helped me through my entire CID investigation and got me a no basis separation. Every question I had was answered in the upmost professional manner. I highly recommend that you retain her defense team for any case that you have. She’s attacks every case in a manner that leaves everyone with a reasonable doubt.
This was a life changing decision.I spent hours searching for and calling several attorneys. Some didn't give me the time of day, others just seemed cold. Mrs. Kral was the only attorney I called who actually seemed to care. And not only that but she listened me and gave an honest opinion. Usually you feel that attorneys only care about money but I never once felt that from Mrs. Kral. She took a personal interest in my case and brought not only her extensive knowledge of the law, but also her fierce attitude and relentless perseverance. She never missed a beat and always had a way forward. She also has excellent communication skills and took the time to explain everything to me at every step. I felt hopeless until we met. Now I can move on with my life and move forward with everything behind me because of how valiantly she fought. I truly think that if you decide to choose Kral Military Defense to fight for you then you'll never feel disappointed. If I could give more than 5 stars then I would. Because she's not like other attorneys. She will always have your back and keep your best interests at heart. If you take away anything from this review, let it be this: You want someone behind you that is willing to fight for you as if you were their own and also has the strength and knowledge to be successful. Don't pass up the opportunity to increase your chances and decrease your stress.
Evan Giancola
Evan Giancola
The team at Kral Military Defense is very approachable, knowledgeable, and dedicated. I was facing an LOR due to the results of an investigation conducted by the military. The team at Kral Military Defense reviewed the report of investigation and was able to craft an excellent rebuttal to the charges. Ultimately, the leadership decided to rescind the LOR . The whole team, Steph, Danielle, ,Abby, and Chris were very responsive to my questions and requests through the whole process. If you ever find yourself in any sort of legal situation in the military I highly recommend that you contact them and put them in your corner!
Stephanie was very knowledgeable and despite me being so anxious about my case helped me through it and got an innocent verdict within 6 minutes of the board being adjourned. So very grateful for her and my JAG for helping me out and highly recommend hiring Stephanie especially if you are military.
Andrew Compton
Andrew Compton
This law firm it worth every penny. Mrs. Danielle is an amazing women. She is kind and warm hearted and professional. She will make sure she understands you very well and will fights tooth and nail for you. Mrs. Abby is phenomenal. Mrs. Abby's Knowledge is deep and spot on. Mrs. Abby knows what to do and if she's not sure about UCMJ she'll make sure she does within your next call. Both these ladies are top-tier lawyer and paralegal. And I will always recommend these two to others for the duration of their long careers. Christian was a great guy and made sure all information was pushed up to them in a timely manner he's a hidden gem. They fight the good fight. Do not doubt them and work with them and they'll do their best and more.
Peter Petracca
Peter Petracca
Kral Military Defense has been absolutely amazing to me. Their whole team is very easy to work with and does such an amazing job. Kral defense was referred to me by JAGS I used to work with and I would absolutely 110% recommend and refer them to anyone in need of assistance. They have made my whole situation stress free and easy.
Kyle Lewis
Kyle Lewis
Steph and her team helped me to get a positive outcome during my NJP process. As soon I heard my case was going to captain mast, I googled military lawyer's and her name came up. With her experience as a former active duty Jag, her team truly understands the military system and what commands can and cannot do. With just a week to prepare for the NJP, her team got me templates that made the process easier. Her wording in her official letter to my command made it hard for the command to process several charges. This team is professional and know what they are doing. Hopefully I am never in this position again, but if so Kral Military Defense will be my first call.
James Johnson
James Johnson

About The Firm

Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

KMD practices in Washington D.C. under D.C. App. R. 49, limiting the practice only to federal military courts in which we are admitted to practice providing services authorized under Rule 49(c)(3). No attorney is admitted to the Washington D.C. Bar, which is not required for our federal military practice.

Office Location

3111 Camino Del Rio N.
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Nothing on this site should create an expectation of any particular outcome or result. Every case is unique.

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