Self-Reporting Misconduct: ArmyFebruary 4, 2020
Contrary to common belief, Soldiers and Officers in the Army do not have to self-report themselves for all misconduct that their chain of command is unaware of. Any self-reporting is only required under very limited circumstances.
AR 600-20, paragraph 4-23, is the controlling regulation. It states, in part, that “[a]ll U.S. Army commissioned officers, WOs, and enlisted members above the grade of E-6 who are on AD or in an AD status in the Reserve Component will report, in writing, any conviction of such member for violation of a criminal law of the United States – whether or not the member is on AD or in AD at the time of the conduct which provides the basis for the conviction.” The same paragraph goes on to state that convictions include no contest pleas and deferred prosecutions.
What this means is that only Staff Sergeants and above are required to report anything at all. Furthermore, Staff Sergeants and above are only required to report a conviction, including no contest pleas and deferred prosecutions. If reporting is required, active-duty members must report the conviction on a 4187, or memorandum, within 15 days of the announcement of the conviction. Reserve Soldiers not on active duty, but in an active status, will report the conviction at the first drill period after the conviction or within 30 days of the announcement of the conviction, whichever is earlier. Soldiers in the IRR will report their conviction to the Commander of HRC within 30 days of the announcement of the conviction.
Often times, when a Soldier gets arrested and the chain of command is unaware, they report themselves. They also will often times feel compelled to give their command evidence against them, such as police reports. This is not required and is usually not advisable.
There may be times when it is a good idea for a Soldier to inform their chain of command about any misconduct they are otherwise unaware of (i.e. so the Soldier can attend required civilian hearings). However, before a Soldier does self-report, they should consult with a military lawyer.
There are other considerations as well. For example, Soldiers will often be required to disclose arrests and other potential misconduct on Security Clearance Applications and Re-enlistment paperwork. Soldiers in this situation need to be very careful about answering all questions truthfully and may be forced to disclose their prior criminal record. Furthermore, there may be local policies that do require self-reporting in addition to the requirements of AR 600-20. For example, United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) is just one of many units that has more stringent reporting requirements.
The above requirements dictate what a Soldier has to report to his or her chain of command. The requirements of what a Soldier has to report to his/her security office, however, are different. These requirements are explained further at this link and should be read for a full understanding of a Soldier's obligations. Furthermore, Soldiers need to be aware of and understand the DoD Continuous Evaluation Program.
Any Soldier that was arrested or is facing civilian criminal charges that the Command is unaware of is in a precarious situation. It is recommended that any Soldier in such a situation contact an experienced Military Lawyer to ensure they make the right decisions.
This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.