Military Defense Lawyer
Defending Military Members Who Confessed to Crimes
Mr. Bilecki and the affilliate court martial lawyers of The Bilecki Law Group, have represented many Service Members with “confessions” who were able to recite their Article 31 rights – some even knew those rights by heart. Some previously received Article 15s and had spoken with a defense lawyer in the past. These Service Members know not to trust CID, NCIS and OSI, yet buckle under the pressure of a serious accusation and provide a written a confession that just so happens to include all the elements of each crime. To understand how Mr. Bilecki and Mrs. Hyatt attacks a confession, it is important to understand the interrogation tactics used by CID, NCIS and OSI. Only after an experienced military lawyer understands the techniques can he be in the position to tear apart that “confession.”
Overview of Interrogation Tactics
Today’s CID, NCIS and OSI agents have gone far beyond the stereotypical “good cop, bad cop” routine. These agents are trained in the art of interrogation and the psychology of manipulation, and use an arsenal of weapons to extract confessions from unsuspecting Service Members. Law enforcement agents are trained to get suspects to start talking and stay talking. The agents are typically friendly, polite, and persistent; they give the illusion of engaging the suspect in casual conversation and rarely succumb to making blatant accusations. If necessary, an agent will empathize with a suspect and go so far as to suggest mitigating circumstances that seem to “explain away” criminal intentions. After this long, calculated process leads to a confession, hours of conversation are reduced to mere two or three page statements that exhausted, bewildered Service Members sign without a second thought. To lock in the confession, law enforcement agents typically add in the following questions to the statement. Were these statements included in your confession?
How were you treated? Fine.
Is there anything you would like to add to this statement? No.
A Service Member in the hands of an experienced agent armed with proven interrogation techniques and intricate knowledge of the military judicial system is virtually powerless to defend himself.
In cases involving multiple suspects, CID, NCIS and OSI agents have an even more extreme advantage, as suspects are more wary of the co-accused than the agents themselves and believe that talking first is the only way to get out of trouble. With that in mind, an agent need only separate suspects and wait; eventually, a confession will come. Agents will play the words of one suspect off of another, convincing each that the other(s) are busy cooperating and laying blame. Soon enough, agents have elicited multiple confessions, practically guaranteeing conviction at trial.
If you are facing charges which involve a co-accused, it is impereitve that you have an experienced military lawyer know how to deal with your confession and the statement your buddies have made against you. In these cases, your court martial defense lawyer will not only need to take down the lying law enforcement agents who took your statement, but may need to take down your so called buddy who will end up testifying against you at trial. Below we list a few of the techniques Mr. Bilecki uses to expose law enforecement for what they are and to win cases despite the “confession.” All examples used are derived from actual cases that Mr. Bilecki has tried, and won. Take a look at the examples below and ask yourself if they may apply to your case. Then ask yourself if your current military lawyer knows how to attack your “confession” in trial or if he or she has abandoned hope and told you that you need to plead guilty. Ask him how many “confession” cases he or she has taken to trial, then ask how many he or she has actually won.
CSI, NCIS and OSI agents know that at some point after becoming a suspect, a Soldier (Airman, Sailor or Marine) will likely consult a military defense attorney who will inevitably advise the client to invoke his right to silence. Knowing this, interrogating agents know that from the moment a suspect arrives in the CID office, time to elicit a confession is limited. Agents proceed to maximize interrogation time by preying on the mental, emotional, and physical stresses endured by Service Members accused of a crime; for the agents, time is a weapon. An experienced court martial lawyer must know how to diffuse that weapon or use it against the agents when it counts, at trial.
Coercive Law Enforcement Tactic: Using the clock against the accused
If the service member does not want to speak about the charges, the agents typically remind him or her that it’s late and they have decisions to make, decisions that will likely determine their fate. They will lie to the Soldier or Airman and tell them that they or the command have decided to “charge them” and that the Soldier can only help himself if they talk to the agents. They follow up by saying that the Soldier must do it (confess) now while the agents are still able to help him, to talk to the command or the Trial Counsel, to have them “drop the charges” or keep the charges at an Article 15. They lie and make the service member believe that this is the only opportunity for them to tell the agents if they just “made a mistake” or if it “didn’t go down that way” or if it “was an accident.” All too often, if the service member says that he should wait until he can see TDS, ADC or talk to lawyer, the agents will say that “a lawyer is just going to tell you to not talk – and that’s ok with us – if you never want anyone to know your side of the story.” Then the agents typically tell the Soldier that, should he decide to not talk, they can’t help him and they will tell the command and Trial Counsel that the Soldier “didn’t want to play ball” and “would not cooperate.”
CID, OSI and NCIS agents create the false impression that time is running out and the Soldier is refusing to help himself while he can. In our experience, only a few service members actually figure out that the only thing they can do to help themselves is shut up and demand to talk to a court martial lawyer. It occurs to very few suspects that the only people “time is running out” for is the agents, not the Soldier. Unfortunately for service members, most free military lawyers don’t have the trial experience to expose this to dynamic to a jury. To expose these deceitful tactics, Mr. Bilecki strategically set up, and uses cross-examination to show the jury that CID, NCIS and OSI are dishonest and that the “confession” was actually coerced from the accused. Without this, you will likely to be found guilty by your own words and go to jail.
At trial, deceptive CID, NCIS and OSI agents will sometime concede that they told the accused that “We’ll tell your command that you played ball,” or words to that effect - but absolutely nothing more. To most military suspects, this initial “offer” is not enough to get them to confess. Mr. Bilecki uses thorough cross examination to expose that the agents actually offered much more then this. Typically, the CID, NCIS and OSI agents made a lot of false promises to the accused but will lie on witness stand when asked about their false promises. To expose the agents dishonesty, we don’t hold back, we confront the agents with exactly how they claimed they were going to “help” our client.
At trial, deceptive CID, NCIS and OSI agents will sometime admit to telling Service Members their cooperation will lead to positive recommendations to supervisors and those in charge of conviction. However, agents often offer far more lucrative promises that they never intend to keep, all in exchange for a timely confession.
With modern technology and the “CSI Miami Factor” many panel members may believe that special agents do not really need a confessions to get a conviction; they assume that DNA and other forensic evidence will prove guilt or innocence. CID, NCIS and OSI agents know otherwise. As important as forensics are in a case, they are often inconclusive or circumstantial. If the suspect didn’t leave a trail of blood or fingerprints at the scene of the crime, there may be nothing from which to collect DNA or other forensic evidence. Furthermore, labs such as USACIL often take months to process DNA and forensic evidence.
Agents are still trained to get a confession, no matter the circumstances.
In a recent case tried by Mr. Bilecki, two groups of men started a gang-related brawl outside of a nightclub one evening. In the course of this event, one Soldier was stabbed in the chest four times. Several eyewitnesses described the stabber as an African American male under six feet tall, weighing approximately 200 pounds and wearing a tan leather jacket. Witnesses also stated that the same man was bragging about the stabbing to fellow gang members. After the brawl, the Soldier was picked up and brought to CID to report “his side of the story.” In this case, Mr. Bilecki attacked the CID agents who interrogated his client and took the “confession” honing in on the blatant lack of forensic evidence in the case at that time. The client was found NOT GUILTY on all charges, including attempted premeditated murder.
Once CID, NCIS or OSI agents have decided for themselves who is guilty for a crime, their sole mission is to elicit a confession from the suspect. In order to accomplish this, agents isolate the suspect in an office or interrogation room. With total control over the suspect’s environment, the agents dictate when the Service Member eats, uses the bathroom, has a drink, smokes a cigarette, or experiences any contact with the outside world. In this isolated state, agents hope that the suspect loses hope or becomes disoriented, and confesses.
In this scenario, it is critical for an experienced military defense lawyer to expose these tactics for what they are: techniques designed specifically to elicit confessions. Bilecki Law Group attorneys conduct a thorough investigation of the crime scene and interrogation area prior to trial - this affords us a distinct advantage.
Coercive Law Enforcement Tactic: “Blinding” the Panel
While most law enforcement agencies around the country are required to videotape interrogations, CID, NCIS and OSI patently refuse to do so, no matter how serious the case. When asked, agents or agency representatives typically say that it is not part of their procedure. At The Bilecki Law Group, we assert that confessions aren’t videotaped so panel (jury) members won’t see the coercive techniques employed to elicit false confessions.
Military panel members would be in a much better position to judge the credibility of a supposed confession if they were able to hear the tone of voice used, observe body language, and see the interaction between agents and the accused. To get the panel to question the validity of unlawfully elicited confessions, we often question Special Agents about how they assess credibility using sensory analysis (e.g. body language, eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, etc.). By establishing that sensory input is necessary to assessing credibility, we show the panel the futility of untaped confessions. Successfully employing such a maneuver requires experience, mastery of trial technique, and perfect knowledge of the rights afforded to suspects.
Few military lawyers have the experience and fortitude to challenge written statements, particularly a signed confession; however, the dishonest procedures agents use to acquire signed confessions must be exposed at trial in order to discredit the confession and the agents who took it. It must be revealed that the client did not type the statement, choose his own wording, decide what to include or exclude, and either did not appreciate the significance of word choices made on his behalf or was too resigned and overcome with mental fatigue to challenge the agents.
Skilled Court Martial Lawyer for Confessions
Accusations of criminal activity place Service Members under inordinate amounts of stress and distress. Special Agents in charge of criminal cases are determined to elicit a confession from the suspect they’ve already convicted in their minds, and will often test the limits of lawfulness to get one. In order to combat a signed “confession” at trial, you need an experienced, savvy, aggressive defense that knows the real story behind false confessions. If you have confessed, you don’t have to plead guilty. Contact The Bilecki Law Group, LLLC to discuss all of your options and level the playing field.
The Bilecki Law Group, LLLC is a Hawaii Court Martial Defense law firm. As experienced
military lawyers, we have the legal knowledge and firepower to aggressively represent you against the court martial charges you are facing, whether you are accused of
sexual assault, rape, a drug crime, larceny, or another
military criminal charge under the UMCJ. We provide quality representation and dedicated counsel for service members from all services, including the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
Contact a court martial attorney
at our firm for strong legal defense if you have already confessed to a crime.