CID Is Not Your Friend
If you are suspected of a criminal offense, chances are good that you will be asked to come into the offices of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID). Your unit will either escort you to CID or you will be asked to voluntarily go to CID on your own. When you enter the CID office, an agent will greet you and then explain that he/she needs to search you prior to the interview.
Depending upon the nature of the offense, a search will include emptying your pockets and a quick pat down to ensure that you have no weapons. Next, a DNA swab of your mouth will be done, fingerprints may be taken, and either a request for you to consent to the search of your phone will be made or you will be told that a magistrate has authorized the seizure of your phone.
After you are searched, you will be taken to a small white room without any pictures on the wall. The room will have a desk and two or three chairs. The chair that you will be asked to sit in will be a standard chair. The agent will sit in a rolling chair. The rolling chair will allow the agent to quickly move closer or further away from you. The desk may have a computer, but nothing else on it. The room will likely be equipped with one or two cameras in order to record the interview, and to allow other agents to watch as the interview is being conducted.
When you first get into the room, the agent will ask you to take a seat. He or she will then tell you that they will be right back. The agent will let you sit in the room for a few minutes by yourself. This act is intended to increase your anxiety level. While you are sitting in the room by yourself, the agent will be watching you to see how much you squirm in your chair.
Once the interviewing agent believes you are sufficiently nervous, they will walk quickly into the room and say something along the lines of “I am Investigator John Smith, I am sure you have questions why you are here. We will get to that in a bit. First we need to go over some biographical information. It will be a simple and easy process. If you have any questions let me know. We will get through this together.”
The agent then will start asking you biographical information. The agent already knows all of this information, but is asking you direct questions to get you in the habit of giving answers to him or her. The agent will have a form that will have much of the information intentionally left blank. The agent will fill in some of the information, and then ask you to write in any missing information such as your date of birth or social security number. Before moving on, the agent will ask some questions designed to make you feel more at ease. The agent will likely ask how long you have been in the Army, if you like being the Army and why you decided to join. The agent will also likely ask you where you are originally from, and then try to say something nice about that area. The agent may also ask you about your family, what you do for fun, and whether you have any pets. This will go on for a few minutes until the agent feels that you are in a sufficiently talkative mood.
Once the agent is satisfied that you have lowered your guard, they will say, “I know you are wondering why you are here, and we will get into all that. However, before we get into all that I have to go over another form. Some people like to confuse it, but it is really simple. We will get through it like a breeze.” The agent will ask you if you have seen a DA Form 3881. If you say “yes” the agent will say “so you know that it is simple to understand.” If you say “no” the agent will say that it is really easy to understand.
At this point, the agent will either pull out the rights waiver form or pretend that they forgot the form. If they pretend that they forgot the form, the agent will leave the room and once again give you some time to think alone. When the agent returns, he or she will say “Okay, let’s get through this real quick, and then we will start talking about everything.”
The agent will show you the DA Form 3881 which is known as a “Rights Warming Procedure/Waiver Certificate” form. The form will have your identifying information on it as well as the date of the interview. The agent will ask you to verify the information on the form.
The agent will then go directly into Section A of the form by quickly reading “The investigator whose name appears below told me that he/she is with the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command as a Special Agent and wanted to question me about the following offense(s) of which I am suspected/accused.” The form will then list the offense that has been alleged against you. The agent will ask you to line out the word “accused” and initial next to the lined out word. The agent will give you a self-serving statement such as “I am not accusing you of anything. That is not my job. I just here to get to the truth. I want to help you clear this up.”
Once you line through the word accused, the agent will quickly state the offense that you are suspected of committing, and then tell you they are now going to read the rights that you have before you are asked any questions. The agent will tell you that they will stop at last right because it trips people up. The agent will tell you that the last right is really easy to understand. The agent will then read the rights form to you. This form contains the fact that you do not have to answer any questions or say anything, that anything you say or do can be used as evidence against you in a criminal trial, that you have the right to talk privately to a lawyer before, during, and after questioning and to have a lawyer present with you during questioning and that this lawyer can be a civilian lawyer that you arrange for at no expense to the Government or a military lawyer detailed to you at no expense to you or both.
The agent will then tell you that the next section applies to civilians so that means it does not apply to you. He or she will then tell you that the last right is the one that shouldn’t cause you to be confused. This last right states if you are willing to discuss the offenses under investigation with or without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering questions at any time or speak privately with a lawyer before answering further, even if you signed the waiver below. The agent will tell you, that “this last right means that once we start talking about everything you will be given a chance to get information from me. I want to help you clear this up and settle everything. After you clear everything up if you don’t want to talk anymore then that is fine. You can stop anytime that you want and then just leave.”
The agent will then flip over the rights waiver form and ask you the following: “At this time do you understand your rights? Have ever requested a lawyer after being read your rights? Do you want a lawyer at this time?” You should immediately say “Yes, I want a lawyer.” If you, instead, say “no,” the agent will ask you “At this time are you willing to discuss the offenses now under investigation, make a statement without talking to a lawyer first, and without having a lawyer present with you?” Again, this would be a great time to say “I want to speak with a lawyer.”
If you say that you are willing to speak with the agent, they will respond “great, that is a good decision.” The agent will turn over the form and ask you to sign block three. The agent will then ask you to write the time at the top of the form and then initial both the date and time block.
If you waive your rights, the agent’s first question to you will be “why do you think you are here?” The agent will let you talk as long as you want in response to this question. Once you complete your answer, the agent will ask you easy follow-up questions at first. These questions are designed to get you comfortable with providing answers. Initially, the agent will simply listen to your responses. At some point the agent will start to challenge your answers. You will know when this happens once the agent says something along the lines, “Okay, some of this is not making sense. I am here to help you, but I need you to be honest with me. This is your one chance to help yourself. This offense is not that big of a deal.”
If the agent feels that they are not getting an incriminating statement from you, they will abruptly step out of the interview room. After a few minutes, another agent will come into the room. This agent has likely been watching the entire interview. The agent will introduce themselves to you by shaking your hand. The agent will then say something like, “I want to help you. Will you make a promise to me that you will let me help you?” This agent will then challenge anything that you say that is not helpful to their case. They will keep telling you that you are only hurting yourself and that they want to help you.
If you are going to make the poor decision to give a statement to CID, remember that you can end the interview at anytime. You do not need to sit through hours of interrogation. You do not need to tell your story over and over again. The longer you stay in the interview room, the more likely the agent will get you to make a statement that hurts you. Do yourself a favor, and avoid the whole process by not giving a statement and remembering that CID is not your friend.