Article 15 NJP – Article 31(b) Rights

Service Members are entitled to be informed of their Article 31(b) rights when suspected of violating any punitive article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, prior to being questioned regarding the violation.

Use the rights warning form [see reference (e)]. Article 31(b) rights contained on the warning form should always be read in their entirety before any interrogation, however informal the questioning. Do not ask the Service Member any questions unless the Service Member has affirmatively waived the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. This waiver should be in writing.

Article 31(b) rights waivers must be made freely, knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. It is critical to ensure the Service Member understands his/her rights and understands the consequences of waiving those rights.

Once the Service Member wants to remain silent or asks for a lawyer, the command MUST NOT ask any additional questions, even if the Service Member had previously waived his/her right to remain silent and had answered questions.

 Remember:

  • Never lie
  • You always retain your article 31b rights even if you have already spoken. At an
  • If you don’t want to answer a question it is perfectly acceptable to state “I’d prefer not to answer that question” and continue with the interview
  • If you are not 100% sure of your answer be cautious in answering the question. Even if your command declines to prosecute you for the initial incident, they still can prosecute you for lying in an investigation. For example if you are not sure if you were wearing a red shirt or blue shirt on the night in question simply state “I’m not sure, so I decline to answer that question”. Even if pressed do not make up an answer.

Be aware of the following when submitting a statement:

  • All confessions or statements must be voluntary. This means that statements can be thrown out if they were given while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, influenced by promises or threats, or given in response to a promise of leniency.