Ask a JAG

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Q: A friend informed me of a newly implemented policy requiring officers and senior enlisted members to self-report criminal convictions. What does the policy require?

A: On Sept. 21, 2011, the Army issued Army Directive 2011-17. The Directive applies to U.S. Army commissioned officers, warrant officers, and enlisted members in the pay grade of E-7 and above, who are on active duty or in the reserve component; and requires Soldiers to report any conviction for violation of a criminal law of the U.S. announced on or after March 1, 2008. 

The directive defines “conviction” to include: a plea or finding of guilty, a plea of no contest, and all other actions “tantamount to a finding of guilt”— including deferred prosecution, pretrial intervention and similar dispositions.

“Criminal law of the U.S.” includes: any conviction of federal criminal law or any state, district, commonwealth, territorial or equivalent criminal law or ordinance, as well as any criminal law or ordinance of any county, parish, municipality or local subdivision of such authority, “other than motor vehicle violations that do not involve a court appearance.” Thus, motor vehicle violations must be reported only if you either appeared in court or were represented in court. This includes situations in which the matter was resolved in court by deferral, diversion, or conviction of a lesser violation than originally charged.  

The content of the report should be limited to factual information and documents that are already a part of the public record. If any additional information is requested, especially including information not already contained in public record, contact Trial Defense Service.

 Upon receipt of a report of conviction, commanders must forward the report to the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, along with any statements of mitigation or extenuation provided. The Legal Assistance Office at the Stuttgart Law Center may assist with the preparation of any mitigating evidence.

The SPCMCA will forward the conviction and supporting paperwork to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority with a recommendation on whether to file the conviction in your official military personnel file.

Commanders at all levels may consider the conviction for all official purposes, including, but not limited to: evaluation reports, assignments, selection for schools, awards, initiation of separation, and suspension of security clearance.

This column is not intended as individual or specific legal advice. If you have specific issues or concerns, you should consult a judge advocate at 421-4152/civ. 0711-729-4152.