Should A Military Person Ever Answer Questions From The Police Without An Attorney?
Here is a very common tactic that law enforcement uses: “Hey, there is this incident that came up and you’re not under arrest. We just want to find out your side of the story. Would you be willing to talk with us?”
They might come to your home and ask this question, or show up at work or even call you on the phone to schedule an appointment. In any event, the answer is always the same, “I would like to speak to an attorney”.
The best time to kill Godzilla is when he is still in the egg.
When a military service member is approached by the police and they start asking questions about his or her involvement in something, the response should always be “I would like to speak to an attorney”.
People normally have a desire to express themselves and explain the situation. There may very well be a time and place for that but that is not going to be to a law enforcement officer without having a lawyer. That’s a disaster. The police are not authorized to offer a plea bargain in the field. Their job is to investigate and build a case.
Do Military Personnel Face The Same Penalties As Civilian Offenders?
Military personnel face the same criminal law penalties as civilians. The big difference is that they suffer potential military punishment on top of anything civil. Depending on the branch of service, they also can’t get out of jail until the military is notified. That technically isn’t a penalty under the law but for someone who’s in jail while someone is taking their sweet time arranging for them to be released, that in itself is a punishment.
What Are The Potential Consequences Of A Conviction On A Military Career?
An arrest is bad enough for a military career. Attorney Stephen Cobb has actually had flight school students being grounded and transferred to what could only be described as punishment duty before he was even hired to represent them on a first offense DUI. However, when you’re talking about a conviction, it can have dramatic consequences for military career. A felony – especially a sex offense conviction of any kind – is a career killer. The only exception would be a charge of indecent exposure. Indecent exposure is right next to the section of law that deals with lewd and lascivious molestation act or battery. Indecent exposure is part of statute 800.03 and lewd or lascivious is 800.04.
The indecent exposure scenario most frequently happens when people are nude sunbathing or out drinking. They have to go to the bathrooms and can’t find one fast enough. At some point he or she tries to go in some place discreet and perhaps urinates behind a tree. The next thing you know they are charged with indecent exposure. Technically, that is a sex offense. There is no sex offender designation or registration requirements.
When it comes to representing military personnel, it’s wise to remember that the military is different. For some, a conviction can lead to a suicide. This is not talked about very often but it has happened. Yet another reason why the Cobb Law Firm uses Coping with Stress During Criminal Prosecution, a powerful stress reduction protocol.
Generally speaking, a criminal conviction is going to damage a military career. However, for example, there is a big difference between a DUI conviction and a felony DUI conviction. A felony DUI conviction is probably going to cause the service member to be separated with a dishonorable discharge.
Whenever possible, negotiated dismissals, reductions and outright dismissals are important strategic and tactical considerations. Charges that have been dismissed can usually be expunged and erased.
What Are The Consequences Faced In Civilian Life By Military Personnel After A Conviction?
The military is very good about a lot of things related to discipline and an orderly mode of living. That’s by design and for very good reasons. Every military service member’s goal at the end of their career is an honorable discharge. For example, an honorable discharge means that they can join certain veteran’s organizations. A general discharge and certainly a dishonorable discharge can haunt the veteran for a lifetime. Many veteran organizations will not accept someone’s application for membership if they received a general discharge. None will allow them to join if they have been dishonorably discharged.
A conviction that damages their discharge status is something that people don’t really think about and for people outside of military life it may be very hard to understand. The civilian without any exposure to military life would look at a general discharge and think, “Oh, whatever”, whereas someone in the military would say “If they didn’t get an honorable discharge, they must have done something wrong”.
It also is something that prevents veterans from having certain special preferences that they would get only if they received an honorable discharge. There are other collateral consequences in the civilian life for military members as well, because so many civilians don’t understand how important it is to a lot of military service personnel.
It may not be important to some but the vast majority that I have served over the past couple of decades find an honorable discharge to be one of the most important ways to end their military career.
For more information on Answering Police Questions, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 850-423-0035 today.
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