It is a common misconception that those with a felony are not allowed to join the military. In some cases, this may be true, but there are also circumstances where felons can serve.
It is important to understand the military’s stance on felons in order to make an informed decision about your choices. Let’s take a look at the military’s stance on felons and how it affects potential recruits.
Overview of the Military’s Policies on Felons
The United States military is an honorable and respected institution, but it has strict rules in place when it comes to recruiting felons. Each branch of the military will have its own set of procedures and criteria governing how a convicted felon may enlist.
Generally, enlistment is not allowed if the felon has been convicted of any violent criminal offense, but there are exceptions. In addition, some convictions may result in a waiver being granted at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense.
The four branches of the military – Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines – generally all follow similar rules regarding felons attempting to enlist. An applicant must not have been convicted by a court-martial or general court-martial for a serious federal offense within three years after release from confinement or sentence imposed and must have fulfilled his/her sentence(s).
The applicant must have fulfilled his/her parole or probation for any conviction(s) that occurred more than three years prior to the date of application with no further legal action taken against him/her during that period with regard to those convictions.
The Armed Forces may also look into an applicant’s past criminal history for any indication of illegal drug usage patterns or any violent behavior that might disqualify him/her from joining their forces.
Applicants who meet these basic requirements may then apply for a waiver depending on their crime or charges received by court-martial proceedings which vary greatly between branches and types of charges brought upon them at sentencing.
Waivers can take up to two months or longer before they are reviewed by recruiters assigned to each branch of the service’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
How a felony affects eligibility for enlistment
The United States Armed Forces is a reflection of the values and beliefs of our country, and all individuals who are admitted must meet standards of conduct, moral character, and maturity. Depending on the severity of any felony conviction, including a guilty plea in lieu of trial, an individual may be prohibited from joining the armed forces.
In general, any felony conviction may disqualify you from joining the military. However, if it has been more than five years since the end of sentencing for the felony charge, you may be able to pursue enlistment with a waiver. If a waiver is granted, this does not guarantee enlistment; rather it allows for your application to be considered alongside all other applicants.
Further eligibility requirements include being at least 17 years old or 16 with parental/guardian consent and having no more than two dependents or family members who rely on you for financial support*.
Extenuating circumstances must also be taken into consideration when determining military eligibility and applicants who have been dishonorably discharged from active duty or another branch of service have their own set of restrictions when trying to rejoin the military.
It is important to keep in mind that each branch may have its own additional standards requiring considerations before acceptance into services such as health impairments or physical disability issues caused by combat-related injuries that could affect re-enlistment status.
Those with previous criminal records can serve in uniform; however, joining requires additional research into your particular situation if there are felony convictions involved so that you can ensure full compliance with all applicable laws as well as armed forces regulations prior to submission as part of your military application package.
*Family member including parents/step-parents; spouse/fiancé(e); siblings (full/half); grandparents; foster child/children; legal guardian/ward or someone declared dependent by management order
What Types of Felonies Are Acceptable
Joining the military may be a viable option after having a felony, depending on the specifics of the felony. In general, felonies involving moral turpitude, such as fraud or theft, are a bar to enlistment.
Other felonies, such as drug-related or violent crimes, may also be an impediment to joining. In order to join the military with a felony, it is important to understand what types of felonies are acceptable and how to go about getting accepted.
Types of felonies that may be accepted
When considering whether you are eligible to serve in the military, it is important to understand that certain felonies may be accepted depending on the circumstances and age at the time of the offense. The five main categories of felonies considered for acceptance are listed below.
While violent crimes can affect an application for military service, each case will be taken into consideration according to its individual circumstances. Factors such as age at the time of commitment, desires for reform as well as efforts taken toward rehabilitation will be assessed. Depending on if a person meets specific enlistment qualifications, then their felonious charge may potentially be accepted.
Property offenses typically include offenses such as theft or burglary. Generally speaking, those who committed a property offense prior to reaching the age of 20 or 5 years ago (or less — depending on which came first) may potentially receive an acceptance from their recruiter. Property offenses that were prior military incidents will always require a waiver regardless of when the incident occurred for enlistment consideration purposes.
Drug and Alcohol Offenses:
Drug and alcohol offenses may progress differently throughout each branch in terms of policy, however, if an individual can demonstrate compelling evidence such as passing drug screenings or engaging in sustained recovery programs since the incident occurred then they may have some hope for acceptance by their recruiter depending upon each case’s individual merits.
Weapon and explosives-related felonies that were committed prior to turning 20 years old or over 5 years ago (or less — depending on which came first) have typically been accepted depending upon personal conduct since then and other considerations unique to each situation’s particularities. Generally speaking, juvenile weapon-related incidents may receive waivers at the sole discretion of a recruiter evaluating each situation independently.
Specified moral crimes — including but not limited to prostitution — often require a waiver from a senior commander reviewing your individual circumstances before any decisions can be finalized regarding eligibility for enlistment with pending moral convictions or past criminal behavior records
Types of felonies that are not accepted
Certain types of felonies may disqualify an individual from enlisting in the United States Armed Forces. In general, applicants must not have been convicted of a federal or state offense punishable by more than one-year imprisonment or confinement and hard labor.
The crime must be related to the applicant’s military qualifications and moral character, as outlined in the Defense Department’s Rules of Court Martial Manual.
Examples of felonies that will generally disqualify an individual from serving include murder/manslaughter, rape/sexual assault, DUI/DWI conviction, robbery with a weapon, and use of a controlled substance other than marijuana.
Depending on the severity, time frame since the conviction, and other situational factors, an exception may be granted at the discretion of the recruiting officer.
In some cases, convictions for drug-related offenses up to seven years old may be acceptable with an approved waiver that shows medical evidence or proof of rehabilitation. Other factors that can influence waiver approval include exceptional family circumstances or youth involved in illegal behavior without prior criminal history being considered as relevant factors for consideration.
Applying with a Felony
A felony can be an obstacle in the pursuit to join the military. Joining the military can be a great way to find purpose and direction, even if you have a criminal background. The outcome of your application will depend on a variety of factors, but you may still be able to qualify for enlistment.
This guide will go over the different steps you can take if you are applying to the military with a felony.
Steps to take when applying with a felony
Although it’s challenging for a felon to enter the military, certain exceptions may be made for certain felony convictions. In order to apply for the military with a felony, you must take several important steps.
First, you must obtain a copy of your criminal background check from your state’s criminal records office. The completed form should include all of your relevant personal information and details on each conviction you’ve received.
Once you have obtained this officially sealed criminal background check, it must be submitted along with the rest of your application package.
Second, depending on your location, some states might require a waiver before enlisting in the military with a felony. You will need to contact a legal representative or ask an officer at the military recruitment office if this is necessary for your situation.
Thirdly, different branches of service offer different felons’ waivers depending on the type and number of offenses committed as well as how much time has passed since said offenses occurred; therefore it is important to contact the respective branches’ recruiter offices to determine which waivers are available and which apply best to your particular case.
Acceptance is rarely guaranteed but taking these steps will help improve your chances of being accepted into one or another branch of service much more likely.
What to expect during the application process
For those with a criminal past, the process of joining the military may appear daunting. But those with felony convictions do have options when applying for military service. In order for felons to join, they must demonstrate that their conviction is not incompatible with military service.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has established specific guidelines for those looking to join who have a felony conviction on their record. Applicants will be asked to provide an explanation of all documented incidents and must indicate how they are particular cases are suitable for entry into the military forces of the United States.
It is important to note that it is not mandatory that all applicants wishing to join with a felon disclose their criminal history during the application process, however omitting this information could result in legal proceedings after entering active duty status.
For those who want to serve in the armed forces but have a felony on their record, they must take these preliminary steps:
– Understand that not all felonies will disqualify someone from joining
– Applying through an official recruiter
– Show proof of satisfactory behavior since release from prison
– Present evidence or testimony showing pardon or successful completion of sentencing requirements
Be prepared for additional scrutiny and possible delays as you go through the application process as it could take slightly longer due to your criminal history. You may need time to explain why you believe this should not disqualify you from serving and provide other evidence where possible in support of your application process.
Joining the Military with a felony can be a difficult process. Your specific situation will determine whether you will be able to enlist or not. Fortunately, there are certain potential waivers that may help you in your application process.
These waivers can come in the form of legal documents, home state waivers, or even waivers from the Military. In this article, we’ll explore these potential waivers and how they can help you join the military with a felony.
Overview of the waiver process
Anyone with a felony or serious misdemeanor may face hardship in joining the military, as convictions for felonies or certain misdemeanors may prevent enlistment. However, in certain cases, a waiver can be sought to overcome this obstacle so that an individual can join the military.
The burden of proof for requesting a waiver rests on the applicant and requires them to demonstrate their character and maturity have improved since their conviction and that they are the type of person the government wants in its armed forces.
Applicants must provide written essays to prove this point and may need to appear before a board of senior officers. The board will focus primarily on evidence of character growth and maturation since the conviction.
Generally speaking, applicants are more likely to be granted a waiver if they have served in a constructive capacity since release from prison; serious offenses committed repeatedly over time will likely make an applicant ineligible; a major violation committed while serving in the military might make it hard to grant a waiver; and plea-bargaining or entering into accelerated rehabilitation programs work against applicants since it means that they resorted under pressure rather than accepted responsibility for their actions upfront.
In light of these considerations, anyone trying to join the military should fully understand what waivers might be available for them as well as which mitigating factors could increase or decrease their chances of being approved.
Knowledge is key when navigating through the complex process by which felons apply for waivers so they can serve in America’s armed forces.
Types of waivers that may be granted
The criteria for granting a waiver to enter a military branch varies from branch to branch. Generally, the waiver request must be made before the applicant enlists as an active duty member and is reviewed by the applicant’s local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
Although waivers can be requested for convictions of many kinds, some convictions provide fewer opportunities than others. In most cases, applicants must demonstrate evidence of rehabilitation and good character prior to being considered for military service.
There are several types of waivers that may be granted by branches of the United States military, including:
– Minor Offense Waiver: For minor offenses, such as underage drinking or possession of marijuana.
– Major Offense Waiver: For serious crimes committed while in pre-military status and prior to enlistment. This waiver also may address trying events that occurred after enlistment if they were committed within 5 years since release from any confinement resulting from legal action taken against the applicant.
– Psychological Waivers: This type of waiver is granted when a MEPS psychiatrist or psychologist has determined that mental health issues do not disqualify a potential recruit. Issues may include a history of suicidal thoughts or attempts, depression or anxiety disorders, drug abuse prior to joining the military, etc.
– Criminal History Waivers: A criminal history waiver may be granted if an individual’s felony convictions happened during a certain period before applying for entry into the military. Depending on the seriousness of the offense(s), delays between 366 days (for sexual offenses) up to 10 years (for multiple felonies) can be waived in certain circumstances.
Even if you do have a felony conviction on your record, you may still be able to serve in the military. However, the military takes a very strict approach when it comes to felonies, and you will have to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible.
Additionally, there are other factors to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue a career in the military with a felony on your record. Let’s take a look at some of these considerations.
Potential benefits of enlisting with a felony
There are potential benefits to enlisting in the United States military with a felony on your record. Often, it can be an opportunity to become a better version of yourself and start down the path of a successful and accomplished life.
Having committed a felony does not mean that you have no chance at joining the military; depending on the nature and severity of your crime, you may be eligible for admission if you meet all other qualification criteria.
The following are some potential benefits to enlisting with a felony:
– You could receive help with rehabilitation through counseling and support programs offered by the military.
– Depending on your branch of service, expanding upon job marketable skills can be beneficial for civilian life upon or after discharge.
– You may be able to gain credit towards college tuition fees through enlistment in lieu of paying off your criminal record through restitution or community service sentences.
– You might also qualify for promotions faster than those without felonies on their records, as long as you serve honorably and follow the rules.
– There is also sometimes an incentive in terms of financial compensation; depending on the project or location where the member is located, their pay may increase significantly due to their criminal past depending upon eligibility criteria.
Enlisting with a felony can sometimes open doors that were previously closed due to convictions in civilian life; however, each individual case will be assessed differently based on its unique nature, so it is important for interested individuals to get more information from their chosen branch prior to enrollment.
Other factors to consider when enlisting with a felony
When attempting to enlist in the military with a past felony conviction, other factors should also be taken into consideration. These include the severity and nature of the offense, the time since conviction, how long the sentence was, and any special circumstances.
The severity of the offense may determine whether or not you are allowed to enlist. Depending on overall wartime needs and how long your sentence was (or other judicial disposition) may also be variable factors in consideration when determining eligibility to join.
If your felony is considered violent or involves crimes of moral turpitude (such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, and tax evasion), you will likely not be eligible for military service.
Furthermore, age is another factor when trying to join up with any type of criminal record in place. If you have a juvenile record and are over the age of 18 but have received less than honorable discharge from your prior service; it may be best for you to request an administrative discharge upgrade before applying for readmission into another branch of service.
This may better ensure the successful submission of your application and could also potentially help speed up review time by applicable branch personnel processing centers.
Lastly, many branches offer recruiters who specialize in cases such as yours so it’s best that consulting such an individual prior to seeking entry into a competing branch can help provide useful insight into all the options available while answering any uncertain questions that you may have at that moment in time.