Does the Army Accept Felons?

Sometimes, the best solution for someone with a felony is to join the Army.  But the question is, does the army accept felons?  The Army maintains stringent moral requirements for army recruits. However, that does not mean that a conviction for a felony will preclude the Army from taking your application. Waivers for felonies have increased among military recruits in recent years.

What is Covered in this Article:

  • Waivers Give Felons an Opportunity to Become Army Enlistees
  • Types of Waivers
  • The Reason the Army is Issuing More Waivers Today
  • Offenses that Can be Waived
  • Offenses that Cannot be Waived

Waivers are Not Automatic

With that being said, a waiver is not automatic. A waiver is only considered and sanctioned if it can be shown that an applicant has successfully adjusted to a civilian lifestyle after being released from the control of the judicial system and prison life.  Obviously a good way to do that is to write a resume and find a job.

In the current day and age, more recruits who are felons are considered for waivers simply because the number of volunteers has waned. Military waivers therefore may be granted to individuals with a criminal history or to applicants who have a medical condition that would have precluded them from signing up for service in the past. The age for new recruits has been extended as well. The age range for new enlistees has now been increased from the maximum age of 35 to 42 years of age.

Classifications for Waivers

Moral waivers that are issued are segregated into six main categories. These six classifications include felonies along with minor non-traffic offenses, serious non-traffic offenses, minor traffic offenses, serious traffic offenses and crimes related to drugs.

In a statement to CNN, the officer of Army Public Affairs, John P. Boyce, Jr., said “. . . [M]en and women in today’s world have a hard time meeting the . . . moral, medical, administrative and aptitude requirements . . . [set by the Army]. . . .” Boyce indicated that “. . . . [only three] in 10 Americans of military age can meet the standards.”  Though this sounds like a bad thing, it really works to the advantage of those with a felony that are seeking to join the Army.

The Reason for More Waivers

The Army has found that the wavier system is necessary in order to respond to a mainstream that has changed. . . .” [Today,] younger people are apt to suffer from medical problems, such as asthma and obesity, or have a criminal history.” He added that moral waivers are not issued for crimes that are associated with sexually violent behavior, alcoholism or drug trafficking.

Information that was collected by the Department of Defense shows that over half of the men and women recruited into the Army during 2007 had felony convictions that ran from such activities as writing bad checks and stealing credit cards to burglarizing residences and businesses and committing drug-related crimes. The data also showed that two of the reported enlistees were permitted to join the Army following convictions for manslaughter and 3 recruits had been charged and found to be guilty of vehicular or negligent homicide.

Offenses that Can be Waived

While recruiting felons is not done regularly, ex-offenders are recruited more often than they were in the  past. When you apply to the Army for recruitment, you will need to explain to the recruiter the nature of your past offense and go from there. However, before you take this step, it is good to be acquainted with what offenses can be waived and what crimes will not be considered for entry. The following list gives you a general idea of what offenses can be waived:

Minor traffic offenses – If you have had six or more traffic offenses, which were considered minor and whose fines were at least $100 per each offense, then a waiver is required. The Army is a separate society than the mainstream. Therefore, local or state laws will not apply as to what the Army defines as minor traffic infringements.

Minor non-traffic offenses – If you have had three convictions for minor non-traffic offenses, you will need a waiver. Once more, the Army has its own definition with respect to these kinds of infractions.

Misdemeanor crimes– If you have had two to four civil convictions or other negative dispositions that constitute misdemeanor offenses in the Army, a waiver is required. If you have four or more civil convictions, a waiver will not be issued.

Should you have a combination of three or more negative dispositions or civil convictions that make up a combination of minor non-traffic offenses and misdemeanors, then a waiver must be obtained.

Two or more convictions for DWI/DUI – A waiting time of 12 months from the date of the conviction must pass to receive the issued waiver.

Again, a felony conviction needs a waiver. However, it is up to the Army as to what it deems is a felony that can be waived.

Offenses that Cannot Be Waived

Offenses cannot be waived if they include convictions of intoxication, drug use, or possession during the enlistment process.

If you have any pending charges against you at the time of enrolment, you cannot be processed or admitted either. In addition,if you are currently under civil restraint – on parole, probation or in confinement, you cannot sign up for enlistment.

A civil felony conviction of three or more non-traffic offenses cannot be approved for any kind of waiver as well. If you are subject to a court conviction for the sale, distribution or trafficking of a controlled substances or marijuana, you cannot be considered for a spot in the Army.

If you have already served in the military and received an RE code of 4 (Re-enlistment Code), then you won’t be able to re-enlist. Prior service people with a dishonourable discharge or bad conduct also do not receive waivers in the Army.

Three or more convictions for driving under the influence within a five-year span will prevent acceptance. You also won’t obtain clearance for 5 or more misdemeanor convictions preceding the enlistment process.

Truth be told, sometimes the rules and regulations around joining the army with a felony can be a little confusing.  Your best bet is to speak with an army recruiter directly, explain your situation, and go from there.  As always, we advocate that you be as honest as possible and let them know every last detail of your felony conviction and current status.

Do you feel like it’s okay for the Army to accept felons?  Do you feel like it will help them become more disciplined?


Army, military

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