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Know Your UCMJ Rights


Your UCMJ Rights

You have rights under the UCMJ, and you should exercise them!

Article 31(b) Rights

Article 31 of the UCMJ says:

(a) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any question the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.

(b) No person subject to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from, an accused or a person suspected of an offense without first informing him of the nature of the accusation and advising him that he does not have to make any statement regarding the offense of which he is accused or suspected and that any statement made by him may be used as evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

(c) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to make a statement or produce evidence before any military tribunal if the statement or evidence is not material to the issue and may tend to degrade him.

(d) No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

Article 31(b) is what prohibits investigators from asking you questions without first informing you generally what you are accused of, telling you of your right to remain silent, and informing you that anything you say can be used against you.

Article 31(d) is what prohibits an unlawfully obtained statement from being used against you in a court-martial. Notice that it does not prohibit unlawfully obtained statements from being used against you in administrative actions, such as an administrative separation board or nonjudicial punishment.

Right to remain silent

You have the absolute right to remain silent. Choosing to remain silent can never be held against you.

It’s common to think that your commanding officer may believe you are guilty simply because you chose to remain silent, leading someone to decide it’s best to tell their side of the story without a lawyer. Of the 20+ combined years Steph and Abby have been practicing military justice, we cannot think of a single time the choice to remain silent was to the detriment of the client.

During an investigation, you should remain silent until you are able to talk to an experienced military defense lawyer. If the right course of action is to make a statement, then it is necessary to be prepared to ensure you get the best result possible for your case.

You also have the right to remain silent in other proceedings, including nonjudicial punishment, disciplinary review boards, XOI’s, administrative discharge boards, or courts-martial.

There is a litany of reasons someone chooses to remain silent, completely unrelated to whether they are guilty. The choice is entirely personal and based on a multitude of factors. Steph and Abby take the time to work with our clients to help them come to the right decision for their particular case.

Nature of the accusations

A common question is whether investigators have to tell you exactly what you are accused of or whether they have to tell you any facts and details of what you’re accused of.

The short answer is: NO.

The investigator needs to give you a frame of reference for the investigation by telling you generally about the offenses. United States v. Quintana, 5 M.J. 484 (C.M.A. 1978). In one case, informing a suspect they were suspected of “sexual assault” in reference to one victim was sufficient to inform them they were also suspected of raping a separate victim 4 years prior. United States v. Rogers, 47 M.J. 135 (C.A.A.F. 1997).

You will not get details from agents during a rights advisement. Read more about what a subject interview looks like here.

Right to stop questioning and leave

When you are under investigation, you will be taken to NCIS, AFOSI, CID, or CGIS by someone in your chain of command. You must follow the orders of your superiors and go where they tell you to go, when they tell you to go there.

However, when you are sitting in the room with the agents and they read you your rights, you are free to invoke those rights and leave, unless they tell you that you are under arrest. If you do choose to make a statement and become uncomfortable or suspicious of the questioning, you have the right to tell them you are done being questioned and leave.

Right to an attorney

You have the right to an attorney. This applies when you have been read your Article 31(b) rights, when you have pending disciplinary action, when you are facing an administrative separation, and when you are charged in a court-martial. The exact scope of the rights differs between the different actions, so visit each page to learn more about the specific rights for each.

In the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, you have a limited right to counsel for everything short of administrative discharge boards and courts-martial. You will generally get an approximately 30-minute consultation with them, where they will discuss their limited scope of representation. They will not provide a full scope of representation the way a civilian military defense counsel can.

When you are being questioned, you must unequivocally invoke your right to an attorney. Saying “Maybe I should talk to a lawyer” is insufficient to invoke your rights and stop the interview. United States v. Davis, 36 M.J. 337 (C.M.A. 1993), aff’d, 512 U.S. 452 (1994). Say:

  • “I want a lawyer.”
  • “I am exercising my right to an attorney.”
  • “I want to remain silent.”
  • “I will not make a statement.”

Don’t discuss with the agents whether to invoke your rights. They will keep trying to question you. Invoke your rights and then talk to an experienced military defense lawyer to determine your next steps.

Right to refuse consent

You have the right to refuse consent. When investigators ask, “can we take a look at your phone?” the answer should be “no.” Even if you think you have evidence that is favorable to yourself, remember that you do not know what all the other evidence may be, and that the agents do not have your best interests in mind.

If you have already given consent, you can revoke it at any time. This is extremely important in cases involving forensic testing. For example, when you have consented to a urinalysis, you can withdraw that consent prior to testing, even when the urine is in the custody of the government. United States v. Dease, 71 M.J. 116 (C.A.A.F. 2012). If they test it anyway, the evidence will be inadmissible at a court-martial.

When KMD provides a notice of representation after we have been retained, we will also talk to our clients about revoking consent. If included in the notice, the revocation will clearly inform the government that the evidence cannot be tested absent a search authorization, which they may or may not have legal grounds to obtain. In some past cases KMD has handled, this tactic has worked to get all the charges dismissed in court-martial proceedings.

Contact Kral Military Defense, PC today at (855) 707-8265.

Kral Military Defense

Military Defense Attorneys

855-707-UCMJ

Our Team


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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
1717638554
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.
1710955344
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
1708111759
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
1703454014
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
1702090081
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.
1701019250
Stephanie is very experienced and a great attorney.
Jameel Yusuf
Jameel Yusuf
1700523346
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
1698797485
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
1696971687
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
1696045742
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
1696028177
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
1695083777
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.
1692130341
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
1690569966
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
1688678032
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
1687897944
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
1687375496
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
1685052472
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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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