Does the Marine Corps Accept Felons?

You may have had the desire to join the military at one point. You might have wanted to become one of the few and the proud by joining the Marines.

Does the Marine Corps accept felons? Let’s take a closer look at that.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is the Marine Corps?
  • Qualifications for Joining the Marine Corps
  • Background Check?
  • Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?

What Is the Marine Corps?

The Marine Corps is an elite fighting force that is part of the Department of the Navy. Marines serve on U.S. Navy ships and protect naval bases along with guarding U.S. embassies. 

The Marine Corps was established in 1776 during the American Revolution and has served to protect U.S. interests around the world since that time. There are approximately 174,000 officers and enlisted personnel that fly planes and helicopters along with spending time on ships.

Being a Marine is a challenging career. The Marine Corps is often considered to be like an emergency military group that responds to crises in various locations in the world.

Qualifications for Joining the Marine Corp

As a special segment of the U.S. military, there are strict requirements to join the Marines. To be eligible to enlist, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien
  • Meet physical, mental, and moral standards
  • Be between the ages of 17-29
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAT)
  • Pass a Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam

An important element that the Marine Corps looks for is quality recruits who must meet the moral standards the Marines adhere to. It isn’t enough to just fulfill basic requirements. The Marine Corps wants those who are above and beyond those guidelines.

While there is not a set list that the Marine Corps uses, they look for qualities like honor, integrity, and personal courage among others.

Background Check?

Of course there is a background check that will be run before you will be considered for duty as a Marine. This background check will look at a variety of factors related to your criminal record. This will be completed during the first phase of the recruitment process. They will investigate for misdemeanor crimes as a juvenile along with whether or not you have multiple traffic offenses.

Of course, the Marine Corps will look for any felony convictions you have on your record as an adult.

The reasoning that the Marine Corps gives for this extensive background check is the following:

  • To prevent enlistment of persons whose social habits, such as theft, arson, and resistance to authority are a threat to unit morale and cohesiveness
  • To screen out persons who would likely become serious disciplinary problems in the Navy and Marine Corps, and who would consequently divert resources from the performance of military missions
  • To ensure enlistees and their parents that the enlistee will not come into close association with criminals

The Marine Corps takes all of this very seriously. They do not want to take a recruit who will act in a way that is detrimental to Marine Corps standards.

As a branch of the military, the Marine background check will be rather strict. A typical military background check involves taking fingerprints and investigating as far back as 10 years looking for convictions. If the background check does not reveal any offenses that would eliminate you from consideration, you will be judged as morally fit to serve in the Marines.

You must be honest in reporting any crimes, felony or misdemeanor. This includes any that are expunged, sealed, or that occurred as a juvenile.

To not report these types of crimes will result in denial of your application to be a Marine and could result in felony charges against you. 

Of course, if you already have a felony record, you could end up going back to prison. So, it’s best to be honest from the start.

Well, all right! That pretty much lays it on the line, don’t you think?

Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?

Yes, the type of felony does make a difference. 

Let’s follow along with this.

You might be dismissed due to your conviction, but there is a provision in the Marine regulations that you might be able to obtain a waiver from the Marines that could permit you to join. It will depend on the crime that is involved.

This will of course depend on how serious the offense is, the circumstances, and the current needs of the Marine Corps. So, there may be a chance.

Typically, waivers are needed in various circumstances. These include such areas as having:

  • Five to nine minor traffic offenses
  • Two to five serious traffic offenses that were serious
  • Class 1 minor non-traffic offenses (two or more)
  • Class 2 minor non-traffic offenses (two to nine)
  • Serious offenses (two to five)
  • One felony

If the offense is a felony, it will make a difference what the felony is. Not all felonies will be eligible to be dismissed.

An extremely serious offense like murder will end any opportunity you might have had to join the Marine Corps. Another felony that appears to be serious enough to eliminate you is a drug trafficking charge.

Other felonies that could prove to be challenging for you is if you have a sexual offense or a violent felony. These represent crimes against persons that are often roadblocks to many types of jobs.

We hope all of that is clear. You do have a chance to fulfill your dream of becoming a Marine.

Having your record expunged could make a huge difference. Of course, it will depend on whether or not you are eligible to have your record expunged, and the type of felony will make a huge difference.

An Opportunity for Felons?

After all of that, if you are still interested in joining the Marine Corps, you might be able to.

Remember, it will require being honest in your dealing with the Marine Corps. You must be open in reporting information about your background, especially your criminal record.

Joining the Marines demands the determination to succeed. You need to demonstrate the necessary moral requirements.

You might want to talk with a recruiter about whether or not you could obtain a waiver for your felony. You need to be honest with the recruiter about the offense and the circumstances.

If you want to join the Marine Corps, you could have your record expunged, if you are eligible. You could put yourself in the position to have your felony waived. 

Keep in mind the moral standards the Marine Corps expects. Society’s belief about felons is that they are immoral and undeserving of forgiveness and are not able to be of service to their country in a role such as the Marine Corps offers.

Don’t be quick to view yourself in such a negative light and believe you have to accept the typical limitations imposed upon felons.

Keep working to accomplish a noble goal to be one of the few and the proud and become a Marine.

Do what’s required to live the right way, put the mistakes of the past behind you, and move forward. 

It can be so rewarding to set and accomplish your goal. There is honor in a military career with the Marine Corps if you want it. 

Don’t continue to be defined by your mistakes but in how you recover from them.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to join the Marine Corps with a felony? What was like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.


marine corps, marines

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