Armed Forces Eligibility Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Legal situations like domestic violence or DWI can have far-reaching consequences.

Aside from the attorneys fees, court costs, fines and possible jail time, a potential military recruit may be denied enlistment in the armed forces if they are currently dealing with or have been involved in certain legal situations.

The military is not meant to be rehabilitative in nature. Gone are the days when the military was a possible escape from criminal prosecution. Prior to entry into the military, an initial screening process is conducted in an attempt to minimize the likelihood of receiving recruits who are disciplinary problems or who may become security risks.

What‘s more, there are some legal situations, including domestic violence, which may exclude a potential recruit from the ownership and use of firearms. Consequently, the recruit would not be able to perform job functions requiring the use of weaponry.

Military recruiting offices may run background checks on potential recruits, including police and court checks. It is best to disclose any legal situation, past or present, up front. Failure to fully disclose may itself be grounds for denial.

During the interview process, the recruiter will ask about arrests, current or dismissed charges or convictions, as well as probation, incarceration or parole periods. In addition, they will ask about juvenile criminal histories, including proceedings that were either sealed or expunged. They will even ask about traffic violations.

In some cases, a waiting period may be required before a recruit can enlist. In other situations, a waiver can be requested that might permit enlistment despite the potential disqualification. Each applicant is considered on a case by case basis.

Each branch of the armed forces may have slightly different regulations; however, some of the regulations that the U.S. Army follows involve:

-€¢ considering an unpaid paid parking ticket a disqualification as a pending charge;

-€¢ considering multiple charges for the same event individually;

-€¢ requiring a waiver in several situations regardless of how the case was decided, including domestic violence situations and serious criminal misconduct, even when the case was decided in the potential recruit‘s favor;

-€¢ discharging anyone who conceals a legal situation that requires a waiver, considering this “fraudulent enlistment”.

In situations where a waiver may be permitted, it is up to the applicant to provide proof that they have overcome the disqualification and that being accepted would be in the best interest of the military. Court documents, evidence of rehabilitation and even letters of recommendation may be required.

There are certain legal disqualifications that cannot be overcome by a waiver. Some of these include intoxication at the time of application, ongoing alcoholism or drug abuse and a history of psychotic disorders. However, recruiters are more than willing to sit down with an applicant and review any potential legal disqualifications. Again, each applicant is considered on a case by case basis.


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