How to Report a Covered Offense to the Navy Office of Special Trial Counsel

Covered Offenses

All Navy units and commands must promptly report covered offenses to the Office of Special Trial Counsel (OSTC). Reporting is required by Rule for Courts-Martial 303 in the 2024 Manual for Courts-Martial, promulgated in Executive Order 14103 of July 28, 2023, as implemented by the Secretary of the Navy through the Manual of the Judge Advocate General. Reporting of these offenses to the OSTC is a result of legislative changes contained in the Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023 National Defense Authorization Acts.

For certain offenses, listed below, the report to OSTC will be accomplished by reporting the offense to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Other offenses must be directly reported to OSTC by the commander who receives the report of the covered offense. Reporting can be delegated to an appropriate level, and may typically be accomplished by the command’s legal officer.

Notification of NCIS will satisfy reporting to OSTC Direct command notification to OSTC is required
Article 118, Murder Article 117a, Intimate Visual Images
Article 119, Manslaughter Article 119a, Death or Injury of an Unborn Child
Article 120, Rape and Sexual Assault Article 120a, Mail, Deposit of Obscene Matter
Article 120b, Rape and Sexual Assault of a Child Article 120c, Miscellaneous Sexual Offenses
Article 125, Kidnapping Article 128b, Domestic Violence
Article 134, Child Pornography Article 130, Stalking
A conspiracy, solicitation, or attempt to commit the above Article 132, Retaliation
A conspiracy, solicitation, or attempt to commit the above

Method of Direct Command Notification to OSTC

  1. Download the Covered Offense Notification form.
  2. Complete the form with as much information as possible. If in doubt about the accuracy of the information, please omit it. Do not unreasonably delay submission of this form to collect additional information that is not readily available. Do not question the suspect or victim or investigate to complete the form.
  3. Submit the form to the appropriate OSTC office using encrypted email.
  4. If you are unable to send an encrypted email, you may send the form to the office’s intake email using DOD SAFE. Please encrypt the drop-off package by clicking the radio button next to “Encrypt every file (REQUIRED FOR CUI, PII, AND PHI)” and then send the encryption passphrase to the OSTC office using an unencrypted email.
  5. If you cannot use either encrypted email or DOD SAFE, please call your servicing OSTC office for assistance.

What Happens Next?

Once a covered offense is reported to the OSTC, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) precludes commanders from taking any disciplinary action on covered offenses committed on or after 28 December 2023 until a Special Trial Counsel (STC) returns or defers the offense to the commander. An STC may exercise authority over other known offenses committed by the same suspect and over related offenses.

Do not allow the suspect to transfer, retire, be released from active duty, or re-enlist until you have heard from the STC. If the suspect’s End of Active Obligated Service is approaching, please consult your staff judge advocate about initiating a legal hold.

Upon receipt of the covered offense case, the servicing OSTC will assign an STC. The assigned STC or other OSTC personnel will notify your point of contact of the assigned STC’s name and contact information.

The STC could determine that the offense is not covered, in which case the STC will return the case to you for any appropriate disposition. The STC will communicate this decision to you via the point of contact you provided.

If the STC determines the offense is covered, the STC will provide the victim, the victim’s commander, and the suspect’s commander an opportunity to provide input on disposition, asking what he/she thinks should happen in the case. The appropriate commanders will typically be asked to provide input after the STC has made an initial assessment of the case. Only after providing the victim and appropriate commanders the opportunity to give input and after receiving sufficient information from an investigation can the STC decide what will happen in the case. The Victim and Suspect's commanders are provided the opportunity to provide input on case disposition, using the Victim Command Case Disposition Form and Suspect Command Case Disposition Form.

The STC may decide to defer the case back to the suspect’s commander or, instead, to prefer charges. The STC will communicate a decision to defer the case to you via a Notification of Disposition Decision (NODD).

If the STC defers the case to you, you may dispose of the case in any manner you believe is appropriate other than referring a covered offense to either special or general court-martial. If the STC defers covered offenses back to you but the STC believes non-covered charges should be referred to a court-martial, the STC may ask the Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) to advise you. RLSO attorneys are responsible for prosecuting non-covered offenses.

If the STC exercises authority over any covered offense, the STC will notify you of this decision before any charges are preferred. The STC will then prefer charges and he or she may request that you appoint an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing Officer. If preferred charges are referred, either to a special or general court-martial, by policy stated in the JAGMAN, the cognizant Region Commander will serve as the Convening Authority. At any point, due to plea negotiations or for other reasons, the STC could defer the covered offense back to the commander for disposition.

The process map illustrates the decision points in any covered offense case.

In all cases:

  • The STC will keep you informed of the case status and will be available to answer questions about the process.
  • All suspects are presumed to be innocent unless and until their guilt may be proven at trial.
  • The UCMJ precludes unlawful pretrial punishment of a suspect.
  • The UCMJ precludes any action that could constitute unlawful influence.
  • Consult your SJA or servicing OSTC if you have questions about this process.


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