Captains Mast – Read this First

If you are reading this it is very likely you are a Navy sailor, accused of wrong doing and headed for XOI, NJP or Courts Marshal. You are scared, unsure of what will happen, and worried the potential punishment and your future in the Navy.

While you cannot go back in time and change the past, you are capable of changing the future. Over the next few days it is critical that you keep the following principles in mind. At the very least these principles will prevent you from digging your hole deeper as you progress down the path to NJP or Courts Marshal.

Principles for an accused sailor:

  • Remember your 5th Amendments rights. Whether you are the president of the United States, a Fleet Admiral or a Sailor out of boot camp you are protected by the constitution against self-incrimination. I recommend that you make no statement until you do the following two things:

Write down the events in the privacy of your own room. This will help clarify the thoughts in your mind

Talk with wise council. Before ever making a statement talk with someone you trust and who can guide you in what to say and what not to say.

  • Do not lie: Regardless of the incident lying about the event is the absolute worst thing you can do. Remember your 5th amendment rights; at any time you have the right to stop questioning by saying “I prefer not to answer that question.” Remember, you maintain this right at all times even if you already started answering a question or writing a statement. At any time you hold the right to simply stop talking.
  • Seek wise counsel: Until this process is over you are in the fight of your life. Your career, your GI Bill, your characterization of discharge, and thousands of dollars of pay and benefits are hanging in the balance. This is the time to find the best advice you can to help you through this process. Reach out to a trusted mentor, lawyer, or senior officer you trust and can work on your behalf.