Military Miranda Rights: A Comprehensive Guide

brown wooden stand with black background

If you’ve watched crime drama before, you’ve probably heard about the Miranda rights. These are read out loud in cases of criminal accusations. Fundamentally, the person suspected of an offense has the right to remain silent; anything they say or do can be taken against them, and they have the right to an attorney.

Given how vital these rights are, do they apply to military members? This article will discuss the Miranda rights of service members under military law. If you know a person subject to military police, this article will help you understand their rights better.

How Did the Miranda Rights in the Military Start?

The Miranda rights, also known as Miranda warnings, resulted from a case in 1966. The case’s decision was based on the fact that the defendant, Ernesto Miranda, confessed that he was guilty when he was in police custody. The outcome was then overturned because of the police’s overly aggressive interrogation practices. In the end, Miranda was convicted, but it was assured that his new trial was fair.

In 1968, California Deputy Attorney General Doris Maier and District Attorney Harold Berliner provided the finalized text for the Miranda warning. These rights are recognized and protected by the United States Constitution to this day.

Do the Miranda rights apply to the Armed Forces? Not precisely, but Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) serves as the military law equivalent of these fundamental rights.

Do Military Members Get Miranda Rights?

Technically speaking, a military member doesn’t have the same rights as one does in the civilian world. Thus, they don’t get Miranda warnings. However, the UCMJ has Article 31 in place, which provides more protection for service members.

What Are the 5 Miranda Rights?

The UCMJ gives military members rights in a military environment, particularly Article 31. These special rights are granted because of the ‘uniquely coercive factors present’ in the military. Here are the rights of service members in official custody:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to have an attorney/lawyer
  • The right to stop answering questions at any time
  • The right to submit only evidence that is relevant to the accusation
  • The right not to have unlawfully obtained evidence used against one in court

Moreover, Article 31 stipulates, “No person…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.”

What this means is that if the law enforcement officer fails to explain why a service member is being arrested, any statement obtained may be viewed as an involuntary statement.

What Are the Similarities of Military and Civilian Miranda Rights?

Interestingly, Article 31 rights under the UCMJ predate the most important rights, Miranda rights, by a decade. These rights may have different names, but they have the same goal: protecting the rights of the accused and encouraging a fair trial. Understandably, most people may confuse Article 31 Rights with Miranda Rights because of their similarities. In particular, these are the conditions to be satisfied for civilians and their Miranda rights:

  • The person suspected must be in police custody, which means they should be in a police station and are not free to leave.
  • The person must be subject to interrogation.

What Are The Key Differences Between Military and Civilian Miranda Rights?

Detective questioning a military personnel

The biggest difference between the two is the custody requirement. All military personnel are entitled to Article 31 rights, regardless of whether or not they are in official custody. Thus, military members have a substantial advantage over civilians in this aspect.

When and How Military Miranda Rights Are Applied (Article 31)

When are Article 31 rights read to a military member? First, you should understand that the concept of an absolute right against self-incrimination is slightly different in the military. The UCMJ controls the Miranda warnings for military members.

This means that before a military law enforcement agent interrogates a suspect, they must advise them of their rights under Article 31. If a service member suspects another member has committed a crime, that person subject to interrogation must be read Article 31 rights.

The rights under Article 31 apply regardless of the setting where the military member is being accused or interrogated. You don’t need to be in a police station or court martial for these rights to be applied. To avoid compulsory self-incrimination, the golden rule is to NEVER talk to law enforcement if you’re suspected of an offense.

If you intend to make a statement, you must understand and waive your rights. Once your rights are waived, anything you say can and will be taken against you in court. That’s why you should NEVER waive your rights. Instead, you should work with an attorney.

The Impact of Not Receiving Miranda Rights in the Armed Forces

What if military personnel weren’t read their rights? Well, it’s unlikely that your case would automatically be dismissed, but it is possible. This depends on the subject, what the context is, and what prompted the interrogation to take place.

military man consulting with lawyer

If the case is minor, like a DUI, Miranda is usually not as vital because there isn’t plenty of evidence after the person is put into custody. On the other hand, if a military member wasn’t read their Miranda rights in a murder case, it’s possible that the evidence given during the interrogation would not have been excluded from the official findings. Thus, it might be possible for the case to be dismissed.

If a person isn’t read their Article 31 rights, the evidence that might prompt a court-martial or military trial during the interrogation may not be honored.


Considering the legal repercussions, you should understand your legal rights. Knowledge of Article 31 rights is integral for a fair trial process. Moreover, it would be best if you conferred with military lawyers for the best advice. Learn more about life in the military by browsing the Military Verification website.


Can you plead the fifth in the military?

Yes, as a military member, you have the right to plead the Fifth Amendment, which allows you to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate you. However, invoking this right doesn’t significantly impact the ongoing investigation or trial process in a military court.

What are Miranda Rights for?

Miranda Rights are designed to protect individuals from self-incrimination during an interrogation. These rights ensure that a person is aware of their right to remain silent and have legal representation, thus promoting fairness in the judicial process.

Can a person suspected appeal a military decision?

Yes, a person can appeal a decision made in a military court, but it’s important to follow the specific procedures in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Consulting with a military lawyer is crucial to understanding the process and navigating the appeal effectively.

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