Many people who have had past felony or misdemeanor convictions may wish to join a branch of the military service. First of all, make sure it is noted, military service is never offered as an option in lieu of charging you with a crime, nor can it be offered as an alternative for your sentence or punishment.

There are misconceptions that some judges may suggest military service instead of jail time, but this policy is not accepted by any of our military branches. Being charged with a crime before joining the military or even after, can cause a set of complicated problems and a Lemoyne Defense Attorney can help.

When speaking to your recruiter, honesty about your past interactions with the law is vital. The Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines all grant “Moral Character” enlistment waivers. This is done on a case by case basis and many rules apply. Not all crimes can be dismissed though, but certain traffic, misdemeanors, and even felonies may be.

Once again, honesty about the crimes and your past is important as it is a crime to fraudulently enlist in any branch of the military. This act will be punished under the code of military justice, and could result in jail time. Even if the crime has been expunged, or it has been sealed, it must be disclosed. 

This emphasizes the importance of knowing all the correct details about your individual case and how it should be explained, and a lawyer with a military interest could be a resource moving through the process. 

What Type of Crimes Can Affect Your Military Service?

Minor Offenses- Criminal Record Waivers, by the military, can usually be used for the following types of misdemeanor offenses: minor non-traffic offenses, minor traffic offenses, most misdemeanor offenses.

Juvenile Offenses- No matter how minor the offense, if you were charged and convicted with the offense it must be addressed correctly. If you were not charged or convicted with the offense, a waiver may be issued. If the charges were dropped or did not result in a finding of guilt, a waiver can usually be issued also. It still must be stressed that the right legal guidance, even in these minor offenses, should be obtained.  

Felony Offenses- All branches of the military take felony offenses much more seriously than minor offenses. The good news is that you still have a path to the military service you desire in the form of gaining a Criminal Record Waiver. The process is longer, and much more detailed but is attainable. Regarding serious criminal offenses, the military branch still makes the final decision and requires much more information about the case and the applicant. In no way is the Waiver “automatic” in this case, and it involves a more in depth look at how the applicant has adapted to society after his/her release from incarceration or probation.

The military may ask the who, what, where, when and why pertaining to your case and would almost definitely need letters from responsible parties as to the applicant’s present character. This again is good news, but involves a lot more work and guidance.

With the proper legal help, there are times when a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor. Before the decision is made as to whether a Waiver is to be granted, the Military needs to be convinced that the applicant’s present lifestyle, actions, and decisions fit in with Military Code.

If a Waiver is to be granted, and a felony offense is the cause, all information asked for should be submitted with as detailed a description as possible. If the Armed Forces decides against the Waiver, there is no appeal. Therefore, it is essential that an applicant submit all the documents asked for in a concise and acceptable manner the very first time, and a lawyer who works with military issues might be able to help with the process. 

Furthermore, If you are active military and are charged with a crime, taking the correct steps is absolutely vital and a lawyer who provides Criminal Defense for Active Military might be your best and possibly only chance at keeping your career and life intact. 

What Might Be Required By The Military Investigating a Serious Felony Offense?

This definitely requires a more in-depth look into the applicant, the felony offense itself, and the applicants current lifestyle and relationships. The process may include the following:

Moral Character Screenings – This will be in-depth and the Military may ask for credit checks, full background checks, letters from employers, letters from relatives, or letters from known associates. These checks are carried out by special recruiters that are skilled in finding out all the information needed about the felony case itself. This process is known to be lengthy. It usually takes a good amount of time, but is worth it for the chance to be granted a waiver which would allow the applicant to achieve their hopes of being in the Military. It is also another reason that obtaining the proper guidance, advice, and help with the professional submission of all documents is so necessary. 

Military and Expungements – Some applicants think that if their record has been expunged, that may mean a Waiver is not an issue, as a record doesn’t really exist. The Military looks at this differently. The Code of Federal Regulations requires all sealed, expunged, and even juvenile records, be disclosed. If this is not done, and information is not disclosed up front, the applicant may be looking at a Federal Charge. 

What Help is Out There?

For the applicant who really sees the benefit and honor in a Military career, there can almost always be a path set out by the Military for them to join and have the possibility of success. Whether the Applicant has a misdemeanor, felony, or even a serious felony offense on their record, they still should be hopeful about their goal of serving in any branch of the Military as long as they follow the proper steps.

There is no substitute for honesty with your Military Recruiter. The Military’s Criminal Record Waiver is a viable path available in an effort to not allow a criminal background to stop you from serving. An investigation will most always be required and will vary in its depth, scope, and time depending on the nature of the offense. The key to the applicants success depends on his or her clarity and honesty with the Recruiter. Guidance from a skilled and effective lawyer can help from the very beginning of the process.

An applicant should never feel that his or her offense is too bad to even think of being accepted into Military service. However, there is a lot involved in the detailed process, and the steps and forms often must be correct the first time, because If denied, there is no appeal.

Therefore the more prepared the applicant is, the more facts of the process that they know, and the clearer the documents are constructed, the better chance he or she has of obtaining a career in the Military. Help is available for every part of the process from beginning to end. A Pennsylvania attorney with experience in military issues can help.