Can I enlist in the military with a criminal record? 23 Answers as of March 17, 2011

What possible options are there to enlist in a military branch with a small criminal background? Besides going straight to a recruiter who wont want to help with this, can you get some sort of congressional waiver or even try to get the charge re worded through the court system? Charge was a misdemeanor for attempt to obtain drugs by fraud. Just a couple options I've seen. Any others would be greatly appreciated.

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Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
It is very difficult to enlist with a felony prior. You can enlist with a misdemeanor prior, but you have to be off of probation. You should also file a 'Motion to Dismiss', pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4, and have that heard (and granted), prior to trying to enlist.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/17/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
Talk to your recruiter! It's my experience that they will do everything possible to get you into the military.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/15/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You should hire an attorney to see if can get the conviction expunged.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 3/14/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Go talk to the recruiter. They have ways of getting enlistment approved, if they want to. Congressional Waiver?

Sure, if you have enough political power to get a majority of Congress to approve a special bill and law for you personally.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/13/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
You need to hire an attorney and have the misdemeanor expunged.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/13/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    The military has regulations that I am not familiar with concerning prior convictions. You would need to ask someone in the recruiters office. I believe an expungement of the conviction would be necessary before they would accept the person. An expungement would seal the arrest and conviction record.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Were you put on deferred adjudication? If so, and you have been discharged, you have the option of filing a Motion for Non-disclosure and then advise your recruiter AFTER YOU TAKE THE ASFAB AND PHYSICAL AND BEFORE YOU SIGN THE ENLISTMENT CONTRACT. This way the recruiter has a vested interest in securing the waiver that will be in your file in case anyone ever does find out. However, with any drug related arrest you will not get a security clearance (possible ETNAC but don't make any plans for it) so you will need to pick a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that does not require a security clearance - ie: you will not ever be an officer and don't even think about aviation or heavy weapons. You could apply for MP, Motor Transport, Combat Logistics, Admin, or any grunt positions. If, however, you have a conviction that is final, you are at the mercy of a recruiter and just have to ask him or her to assist in securing a waiver. A matter you have to bring up at the start. The difference between the way I suggest you do this if it was deferred and a final conviction differs on purpose. The deferred may not show up, you just want that extra level of protection - just in case it ever does. A final conviction however, is public record and will show up, you do not want to lie about that item, get to boot camp and be discharged 2 weeks into bootcamp - shaved head and all. There is no such thing as a congressional waiver. There is a Pardon, that would come through the Governor and it is a convoluted process - very expensive with little chance of success.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    I am not sure what you mean by won't help. recruiters, I believe, have a quota. Getting you "in" is to their advantage. How old is the case? Are you finished with probation? What might be worth asking the recruiter about, anonymously on the telephone, is if an expungement of the misdemeanor charge would allow you to enlist. To get an accurate answer, tell the recruiter what the specific charge is. Pardons take a very long time and are very hard to get.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    As a general rule of thumb you will be required to divulge any criminal history to recruiters due to certain applications of federal law. Certain minor offenses only require a waiver if you have received charges more than once but most drug charges aside from certain contingencies involving prescription drug charges when an individual is actually prescribed to them automatically require a waiver. While this is not to be construed as legal advice, you should not automatically assume that a recruiter would be against helping you with your situation.

    It would certainly seem that your best option is to divulge the information if attempting to enlist and then allow the administration to direct you through the process of applying for a waiver if necessary. Your enlistment station will know the procedure for this. Failure to divulge your criminal history while enlisting can result in discharge down the road and should therefore be avoided. If you are seeking legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, we invite you to contact our firm at the information provided on this page.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You may be able to get into the military if you can get your case expunged or sealed. To get an expungement, you must have not been convicted for the offense, that is, having gone to drug school or receiving an order of supervision, as opposed to a straight conviction for the offense. In some cases, you can get the offense sealed, which acts similar to an expungement, but the record is available only for law enforcement agencies and the courts. Short of that, you could petition for a governor's pardon from the conviction, but the chances of that are remote, at best.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Check with attorneys in your community. A Congressional waiver does not appear realistic. Your question is also designed more for a recruiter to answer. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You must tell your recruiter about your prior record, including all youthful offender cases, juvenile cases, and arrests that were dismissed. You may be able to get a waiver unless you have a serious record. You must wait 30 days after you get off probation or parole and you cannot have any pending cases.With just one misdemeanor prior you have a good chance of getting into the Army or other branches.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Crippen & Cline, LC
    Crippen & Cline, LC | Stephen Howard
    A recruiter can actually be one of the best resources for you in this situation. The requirements for enlistment are different depending on which branch of the military you are considering. The requirements can also change depending on what the recruiting needs are at the time.

    The first step would be to talk to a recruiter. If your charge will keep you out of the particular branch of the military you are considering, then you should talk to an attorney in your jurisdiction about whether there is a way to get the charge reduced or expunged. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    I am not sure how the military operates with recruiting, but getting a misdemeanor expunged may help. There is additional info about expungements. Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    If someone has a felony conviction, the military will not accept them without getting the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. But with just a misdemeanor charge, an expungement will probably do the trick. It is a relatively simple procedure assuming the defendant has successfully completed probation. I am doing a motion right now for a client who has a letter from a recruiter saying she will be accepted if her felony conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    It all depends on the branch of the armed forces you are applying for, and your recruiting officer. I have had my clients get in, but be turned down by other branches. The best way to find out is to talk to recruiter. Then talk to local attorney and see if the city might have some way to clear record.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    The best advice is to see if your charge is eligible to be expunged. Most misdemeanors are eligible to be expunged as long as you meet certain criteria. Generally, you have to have waited 3 years from the date of conviction and had a clean record. If you were convicted of more than one charge, you have to wait 10 years. You should speak with an attorney about having the charge expunged. If it can be, then it will be like it never happened, and you are allowed to say, truthfully, that you have never been convicted of a crime. I work with these kinds of cases quite frequently and would be happy to help you. Please feel free to give me a call.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Law Offices of Karen Kilpatrick
    Law Offices of Karen Kilpatrick | Karen Kilpatrick
    Do you know if you are eligible to seal or expunge the record? Even though you would still have to reveal it - it often helps. Or, you can request a pardon from your state governor. Read this article about applying for a waiver when you enlist: I think the army is the easier branch to get a waiver from.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    That is a questions you probably need to discuss with whatever military branch you are considering enlisting in. It will depend on what you are trying to do and how bad your criminal record is.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Go to another recruiter.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/11/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    That is up to the branch of the service, you can see whether or not the conviction can be expunged from your record. There are state laws that allow for that. I cannot tell whether or not I will be successful based on the facts provided here but it is a thought.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 3/11/2011
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