In most cases, criminal acts are not minor offenses.
However, they are serious or minor depending upon
circumstances and, thus, while some disciplinary of-
fenses carry severe maximum penalties, the law recog-
nizes that the impact of some of these offenses on
discipline will be slight.
The circumstances surrounding the commission of
a disciplinary infraction are important to the determina-
tion of whether such an infraction is minor. For exam-
ple, willful disobedience of an order to take ammunition
to a unit engaged in combat can have fatal results for
those engaged in the fight and is a serious matter.
Willful disobedience of an order to report to the barber-
shop may have much less impact on discipline. The
offense must provide both extremes, and it does because
of a high maximum punishment limit.
When dealing with disciplinary infractions, the
commander must be free to consider the impact of the
circumstance since he or she is considered the best judge
of it. However, in disposing of crimes, society at large
has an interest coexistent with that of the command, and
criminal defendants are given more safeguards. The
commanders discretion in disposing of disciplinary
infractions is much greater than his or her latitude in
dealing with crimes.
The Navy has taken the position that the final
determination of what is a minor offense is within the
sound discretion of the CO. Imposition of NJP does not,
in all cases, prevent a later court-martial for the same
offense. See part V, par. 1e, MCM, 1984.
Cases Previously Tried in Civil Court
Sections 0108b and 0124c(2) of the JAGMAN per-
mit the use of NJP to punish an accused for an offense
that he or she has been (1) tried (whether acquitted or
convicted) by a domestic or foreign civilian court, (2)
diverted out of the regular criminal process for a proba-
tionary period, or (3) adjudicated by juvenile court
authorities. This is true only if authority is obtained
from the OEGCMJ (usually the general or flag officer
in command over the command desiring to impose
NJP may not be imposed for an act tried by a court
that derives its authority from the United States, such as
a federal district court.
Cases in which a finding of guilt or innocence has
been reached in a trial by court-martial cannot be taken
COs and OICs may dispose of minor disciplinary
infractions that occur on base or off base at NJP. Unless
the off-base offense is a traffic offense or one previously
adjudicated by civilian authorities, there is no limit on
the authority of military commanders to resolve such
offenses at NJP.
In areas not under military control, the responsibil-
ity for maintaining law and order rests with civil author-
ity. The enforcement of traffic laws falls within the
purview of this principle. Off-duty, off-installation
driving offenses, however, show inability and lack of
safety consciousness. Such driving performance does
not prevent the use of nonpunitive measures that could
include denial of on-installation driving privileges.
THE NJP PACKAGE
The NJP package, as we will refer to it, includes
numerous documents and forms along with any evi-
dence on the case. As we will discuss, strict compliance
with filling out the forms is essential to a proper NJP
REPORT AND DISPOSITION OF
Your office may receive notification that an offense
has been commited in a variety of ways. These ways
can include a shore patrol report, a verbal complaint by
a victim, or a local report chit. Except when serious
crimes are involved, charges are reduced to writing on
the Report and Disposition of Offense(s), NAVPERS
1626/7, and processed in the manner prescribed by the
The NAVPERS 1626/7 is a one-sheet (back and
front) form. It is not a substitute for a charge sheet and
it is not a substitute for the pretrial investigation re-
quired by Article 32, UCMJ. However, so long as the
offense(s) remains in the group of cases to be handled
by the CO at mast, this one form satisfies most paper
work requirements of a mast proceeding. Among the
functions the NAVPERS 1626/7 serves are the follow-
l It reports the offense(s).
. It records that the accused has been advised of
his or her rights under Article 31, UCMJ.
l It records any premast restraint.
. It serves as a preliminary inquiry report.