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Article 31, UCMJ -Continued
CHAPTER 4 CONSTITUTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS The  time  has  now  come  for  a  more  searching examination of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and of your duties as an LN in the area of military  justice. Future  lessons  will  be  devoted  to nonjudicial  punishment  (NJP),  to  courts-martial,  and  to the  pretrial  and  posttrial  activity  associated  with courts-martial. Before  we  address  these  subjects, however,  you  must  develop  an  understanding  of  several important  constitutional  principles—principles  that,  if not  exactly  followed,  may  invalidate  the  results  of disciplinary  proceedings. The first of these constitutional principles that we will look at concerns the accused’s rights under the Fifth Amendment and how Article 31 of the UCMJ is used to interpret these rights as well as the procedures used to inform  the  accused  of  these  rights. ARTICLE 31, UCMJ, AND THE FIFTH AMENDMENT Article 31 of the UCMJ is a statutory enactment of judicial   interpretations   of   the   Fifth   Amendment protection  against  compulsory  self-incrimination.  Like all statutes, Article 31 is of a lesser importance than the constitutional provision. It is, however, broader than the constitutional  guarantee  and  will,  therefore,  be  used  as a basis of discussing the rights of persons subjected to interrogation. The concerns of Congress in enacting Article 31 were  the  interplay  of  interrogations  with  the  military relationship. Specifically,  because  of  the  effect  of superior rank or official position, the mere asking of a question   under   certain   circumstances   could   be construed as the equivalent of a command. So, to make sure the privilege against self-incrimination was not undermined,  Article  31  requires  that  a  suspect  be advised  of  specific  rights  before  questioning  can proceed. PREINTERROGATION  WARNINGS Before  an  individual  can  be  questioned  on  an alleged  crime  that  the  individual  is  suspected  of committing, that person’s rights as afforded by the  U.S. Constitution  must be explained. This explanation of the individual’s  rights  is  called  a  preinterrogation  warning. To help you understand this warning, you will examine what is required by the Fifth Amendment, how Article 31 of the UCMJ incorporates the Fifth Amendment, and what  procedures  must  be  followed  to  properly administer  a  warning  under  Article  31,  UCMJ. Fifth Amendment Rights The Fifth Amendment to the  U.S.  Constitution provides, among other things, that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The Sixth Amendment requires that the accused in a criminal case “be informed of the nature .  .  .  of the accusation” and that he or she have the “assistance  of  counsel  for  his  defense.”   In passing the UCMJ,  Congress  enacted  the  spirit  of  the  Fifth Amendment in Article 31. Much later, the Court of Military Appeals made applicable to the military a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. That  decision  declared  if  an  accused  person  is interrogated  with  a  view  toward  using  his  or  her statement in evidence against him or her, the accused has not only the right to have the assistance of counsel, but   must   be   advised   of   this   right   before   any interrogation. Since  you  will  be  dealing  with  persons  suspected  of offenses, you will be primarily interested with real world ramifications of these rights. When and by whom must a suspect be warned? What is a valid warning? What are the consequences of a failure to warn? Article 31, UCMJ Article 31 is divided into four subsections. The first three  regulate  the  activities  of  persons  subject  to  the Code  when  they  are  questioning  or  interrogating persons. The fourth subsection prohibits the receipt into evidence of any statement taken from an accused in violation  of  the  first  three  subsections. Article  31  (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.”   Compulsion  and  self-incrimination are the keys to understanding this subsection. Evidence is   incriminating   if   it   tends   to   establish   guilt. Interrogation  is  improper  under  Article  31(a)  if  it 4-1

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