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Can You Join the Military with a Misdemeanor?

Posted on June 29, 2018 in criminal defense, Military Defense
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Members of the United States Military hold a unique position. Those who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces are held to a high moral standard. This means anyone wanting to join must undergo a criminal background check. This may leave you wondering whether you can still enlist in the military with a misdemeanor on your criminal record.

Being convicted of a misdemeanor does not mean you won’t be able to join the armed forces. If the act leading to your conviction was not one that reflects poorly on your moral character, you are more likely to gain favor as you begin the enlistment process. In some cases, you may be able to obtain a waiver allowing you to join, even with a misdemeanor on your record.

If you have any questions about joining the military with a misdemeanor, The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC can help. Call (253) 203-3379 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Tacoma military defense attorney today.

Joining the Military With a Misdemeanor

If you’re interested in enlisting in the military but are concerned that a misdemeanor conviction will prevent you from reaching that goal, it’s important to know the details surrounding how each branch takes criminal records into account.

Joining the Army With a Misdemeanor
If you want to enlist in the United States Army, your criminal and moral history will be examined. Military investigators are permitted to access these records in most states, so it is important you be forthcoming about all past criminal offenses. This includes juvenile wrongdoings and any crimes that were expunged.

If a recruiter finds your criminal background to be in questionable, you will have to participate in a suitability review to determine if a waiver is required. A team will evaluate whether your character and record indicate you are not fit to serve in the Army. If you have two or more misdemeanors, you will be subject to a suitability review. If it is determined you do require a waiver, you will not be permitted to enlist until that waiver is granted.

Joining the Navy With a Misdemeanor
As with the Army, you will not necessarily be prevented from enlisting in the Navy by having a misdemeanor on your record. If you want to enlist in the Navy, you are required to disclose all arrests or charges you have faced, even if they were dropped or dismissed.

If you have any charges that were not unconditionally dropped or dismissed, you may be required to apply for a waiver to enlist. The Navy requires a waiver if you have three or more minor, non-traffic violations and minor misdemeanors combined. A waiver is also required for any non-minor misdemeanor. With any of these on your record, you will not be permitted to enlist until your waiver is approved.

Joining the Air Force With a Misdemeanor
Similar to the other branches, the Air Force is generally not concerned with the legal outcome of your misdemeanor case. They are more concerned with what the misdemeanor says about your moral character. In considering waiver applications, the Air Force looks at the following factors:

  • Age – If the misdemeanor was committed while you were young, the Air Force might decide it does not affect your moral qualification to serve.
  • Singularity – If the offense was an isolated incident and you’ve been in no legal trouble since, you may still be allowed to enlist.
  • Circumstance – If the crime occurred during a difficult time in your life, a recruiter may determine that it does not reflect your moral character.

Joining the Marine Corps With a Misdemeanor
The Marine Corps will also screen your criminal history to evaluate your moral qualification to serve. As with all military branches, it is important you be honest in your disclosure of all offenses to a recruiter.

A misdemeanor does not preclude you from serving in the Marines. While there are some offenses this branch will not waive, there are many for which a waiver may be obtained. Waiver approval must be granted at different levels of command, depending on the offense.

Call a Military Defense Attorney for Help

You may still be allowed to serve in the military with a misdemeanor on your record. Your ability to enlist depends on the offense in question, when you committed the crime, and how you have conducted yourself since it occurred. The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC can help answer any questions you have about military enlistment and your criminal record. Schedule an initial consultation by reaching out online or calling (253) 203-3379 today.