3 Ways to Beat Military Investigators at Their Own Game

Internet Crime by Military Personnel

The script, simplified: 

  1. What exactly am I being accused of?
  2. That’s not true. I didn’t do it.
  3. I’m not going to talk to you, I want a lawyer.

If the military suspects you of committing a crime, eventually the investigators will ask you to talk. The conversation won’t be on your turf. It’ll be at their office, behind locked and guarded doors, in a tiny, windowless, clockless interrogation room. You’ll be directed where to sit. The scene and the method are scripted, staged, and calibrated for maximum psychological effect. It’s not a conversation, it’s a confession hunt. And it can last all day and night if you let it.

These three tips can help you get out of that situation quickly and harmlessly.

  1. Get whatever information you can about the accusation.
  2. Make your denial, on video if possible.
  3. Assert your rights immediately after making your denial.

We’ll address each of those steps first, and then at the of this post we’ll give an illustration of how these steps might play out in an actual interrogation.


The simplest way to end the interrogation quickly and before any damage is done is to tell them you’re not going to make a statement and you want to talk to a lawyer immediately. You won’t get any information about the allegations, but it works. If you choose to do that, don’t be meek about it. Be firm. Don’t ask them if you should talk to a lawyer. Just invoke your rights and get back to safety.

If you decide to try to get some information before invoking your rights, the first thing you need to ask once you’re sitting in the interrogation room is if the interview is being video recorded. You want to make sure everything you say and they say is captured.

Once you’ve established that, then you ask your questions. You do this before they try to make any small talk or get any biographical information. You make it the first thing to be covered.

At a minimum you should be able to get these answers if the investigators are playing it straight:

  • Am I under investigation?
  • What specific crimes or misconduct am I being suspected of committing?
  • What specific article of the UCMJ are you investigating me for?

Bonus information you might be able to get:

  • Who is making the accusation?
  • When did this happen?
  • Where did this happen?

Unless you subject yourself to an interrogation, which you aren’t going to do, you probably won’t be able to get the bonus information. But it can’t hurt to ask.

When you ask the initial questions, they’ll steer you away by saying something like, “We’ll get to that, but first we need to …”

Keep in mind that, as far you’re concerned, this is not a two-way street right now. Right now your perspective has to be that if they want to talk to you at all, it’s only fair for you to know what it’s about, specifically. Military investigators love being vague. It’s a trap. Insist that they tell you the specific allegation and specific article of the UCMJ it falls under.

When you ask why they want to talk to you, they might not even tell you that much. They might ask, “Why do you think you’re here?” You don’t have to play along with that. If they try it, ask again. If they refuse to tell you why they want to talk to you, tell them you want to talk to a lawyer immediately. Get out, get to safety.

If they do tell you what you’re suspected of, they might tell you they just want to eliminate you as a suspect. That’s a lie. They’re allowed to lie to you.

When you ask why you’re there, what you’re accused of, etc., the investigators will try to put you off and steer the conversation back to where they can control it. They’re not interested in giving information. That’s ok. They owe you, you don’t owe them. Ask your questions, get what you can get, end the interrogation. Just don’t be a jerk about it. Always be classy and polite.


You don’t have to deny it, but we’re going to assume that’s what you want to do. As soon as you know what you’re being accused of, and have whatever bonus information you can get up front, make your denial. It can take just about any form, so long as it’s clear:

  • That’s not true.
  • I didn’t do that.
  • I’m innocent.
  • That’s not true, I didn’t do it, and I don’t care what evidence you think you have. I’m innocent.

Use this technique whether or not the interrogation is being recorded.

When you make your denial, be firm and be confident. Someday a jury or judge might see that video. For sure the prosecutor will see it, and the absence of a confession is always important to a prosecutor’s (and your commander’s) assessment of the strength of the case. And a denial is even better than an absence of a confession.

If all the investigators get from you is a denial, you might not be able to use the video at trial – they hate putting a denial in front of a judge or jury – but it’s better to have it recorded than not have it. Let your attorney figure out how to use it.

And then …


Once you’ve made your denial, tell them you’re not going to agree to be interviewed, you’re not going to make a statement of any kind, and you don’t consent to the search of any of your property or your residence. Again, be firm but polite.

When in doubt, invoke your rights. If at any time you don’t feel comfortable asking the questions we listed here, invoke your rights. The most important thing is to never waive your rights. Invoke them. It’s only a question of when you want to invoke them.

That’s true even if you have already waived your rights and agreed to be interrogated. If you waived your rights and things go sideways on you, invoke your rights before you say something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.

If you have anything helpful to say about the case, you can have your attorney say it for you. Nothing your attorney says can be used as evidence against you in a court-martial, and your attorney will make sure the information is presented – if at all – in the best possible way.

You don’t have to wait for the investigators to inform you of your rights in order to invoke your rights. Just do it. It can be as simple as saying

  • I’m not going to talk to you. I want a lawyer.

That’s truly is all takes. The steps explained in this post are designed to get information that might help level the playing field, but they’re not necessary. If in doubt, invoke.

In an ideal scenario, here’s how the conversation might go if you’re controlling the flow of information:

  1. Is this interview being recorded right now?
  2. Why do you want to talk to me?
  3. What am I suspected of, specifically?
  4. What article of the UCMJ covers that?
  5. Who’s accusing me?
  6. When did it happen?
  7. Where did it happen?
  8. It’s not true. I didn’t do it. I’m innocent.
  9. I don’t consent to you searching my phone, computer, car, residence, or anything of mine. And I won’t take a polygraph.
  10. I’m not going to talk to you. I want to talk to a lawyer right now.

It’s probably never going to be quite that easy. Investigators aren’t stupid, and they’re trained to fend off your resistance and steer you away from your denials. Even if they figure out what you’re up to, they might give you some of the information anyway just to see if you’ll open up. Which you won’t.

Whether or not you can get the additional information, whether or not you decide to skip straight to asserting your rights, knowing the rules of engagement will help you survive, get home quickly, and keep your court-martial defense intact.


This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. This post reflects our experience and what we believe works best for our clients. It is intended for informational use only. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Any military member facing an allegation of misconduct should consult with lawyer who specializes in military criminal law before taking action or making decisions in a military investigation or court-martial.