How to Know If You’re Under Investigation And What To Do
How Do I Know If I Am Under Investigation?
What Is Happening While I’m Under Investigation?
The way the military investigative system works is that they start an investigation of an individual as a target. Unfortunately, that target is you right now. That is the important distinction you need to understand. They are not investigating the crime, they are investigating you, looking for proof that you did it. It’s not a case of “who did it”, it’s “we know who did it and how can we prove it.”
A classic example would be a sexual assault case. The victim says you assaulted her in the barracks while she was drunk and proving that true now becomes their mission. They don’t want to know if she actually was drunk or if the two of you had completely consensual sex. They want to prove that she was too drunk to consent. It is confirmation bias at its worst and they are going to begin a three ring investigation looking for evidence to that end. It’s not fair to you, the service member, and as long as the military justice system has a body to prosecute, the military investigators consider their job done. Now let’s talk about the three ring investigation process.
The First Ring Investigation
This is the crime scene and it is the first and center ring. Where did it happen? Who were you with? What were the facts of the day? Let’s use the barracks room as an example for where a sexual assault alleged occurred. They are going to get access to the barracks room and when they get there, they have a singular focus of finding evidence that proves your guilt.
We know that sounds like an exaggeration, but we have seen it and that’s how confirmation bias works. The mind will willingly ignore facts that may produce an emotionally unsatisfying result. Make no mistake about it, military investigators are emotionally invested in proving your guilt. They will talk to anyone you were with that night and rather than asking open ended questions, they will ask leading questions.
An open ended question would be, “Did you see the alleged victim drinking on the night of ….” Instead, they’ll ask something like “We know you and the victim were drinking heavily before she was raped, tell us how long you two were drinking.” When the witness gives a time, or even responds in the affirmative, it’s used against to you to show that the alleged victim was overly intoxicated and unable to consent.
The Second Ring Investigation
The Third Ring Investigation
They have no shame in how they approach these investigations. In a case like sexual assault, they will talk to your wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-wife, mother, father, and anyone else they can think of. If they can find the last person you hooked up with on Tinder, they will talk to them too. Then, just by the questions they ask, if those people didn’t think you were a bad person to start with, they will start to believe it now. If they can get an ex-girlfriend to make another allegation against you in the process, they will take that too.
If they can get an ex-girlfriend to make another allegation against you in the process, they will take that too. This is how an initial false allegation for sexual assault turns into a three-victim case at trial. Again, their objective from the first ring to the third ring is not to find truth. Their objective is to prove you guilty.
How Long Does the Investigation Process Take
When you don’t hear anything back during a drawn out investigation, you are almost led into thinking that they have forgotten about you. Well, they have not. Law enforcement is now working with the JAG and the JAG is now telling investigators what else they need to get a conviction. So, the investigators go out to get it. Ultimately, the command gets the decision on whether or not to prosecute. However, they do so in consultation with the JAG. Then, finally if the case is weak and they don’t want to pursue court martial, you’d think they’d wrap it up and let you move on. Nope, that’s when they decided to use NJP or other adverse administrative action to scare you into accepting what their investigation could not prove in a forum in which you have little recourse. The administrative separation is the final gut punch the military will give you to send you packing, with a less than honorable discharge. This is how false allegations ruin careers, even if they don’t go to trial. It’s not right, it’s not fair, but you have to fight back!