In looking for a job after release, a felon may want to get a position with the military or to enlist as a recruit. This blog post will cover whether or not the military runs background checks.
- What Is Included in a Background Check?
- Military Background Check on Job Applicants
- Military Background Check on Recruits
- Military Waiver
- Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
- Tips for Success with the Military
What Is Included in a Background Check?
The military may review an applicant or recruit’s background because they don’t want someone who doesn’t succeed. This is someone who:
- Doesn’t produce quality work
- Has a negative attitude
- Doesn’t work well with other employees or military staff
- Doesn’t deal well with customers or superiors
- Doesn’t have the skills
- Has attendance or attitude problems
- Is dishonest
The last question is the biggest challenge for felons. Their criminal history can be a problem when applying for a job or joining the military even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.
The military may view:
- Credit reports
- Driving records
- Educational records
- Criminal offenses
Background information helps the military to determine a candidate’s:
- Past mistakes
- Financial fitness
This allows the military to identify risks for security and safety issues.
The criminal record review conducted of a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check if a felon has his or her record expunged.
Military Background Check on Job Applicants
The military runs a background check on all applicants for a job or as a military recruit. Military background checks are very strict. This is because many military positions involve classified information related to national security.
A position involving a government security clearance involves an in-depth background check. Even an entry-level position that does not require a security clearance will require a background check to ensure that the candidate is, “reliable, trustworthy, of good character and conduct, and if complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States.”
The depth of the background check will depend on the position. A refusal to answer any questions will result in disqualification or denial of employment. Most military background checks involve a personal interview so the candidates have the opportunity to explain their answers.
All federal employees, including military, must be fingerprinted and screened through the FBI criminal database. Additional background screening, including a drug test, will depend on the job position.
Any background investigation involving a security clearance is lengthy and involved. A security clearance background check includes an extensive interview. The government will conduct an interview with the applicant along the spouse, friends, neighbors, educators, employers, and professional references.
Military Background Check on Recruits
All military recruits are required to submit a questionnaire disclosing information about their background relating to criminal history and past drug use. Anyone who wants to join the military must go through an extensive FBI background check. This is initiated at the military entrance processing station (MEPS) and will include a comprehensive federal, state, and local background check.
A criminal record will not necessarily disqualify someone from joining the military. A waiver of admittance must be obtained in order to enlist with a criminal record. Certain offenses will not be accepted or granted a waiver of admittance.
Among these offenses are:
- Family violence
- Unpardoned felonies
- Substance abuse
- Credit and financial difficulties
Anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime may not have access or possession of a firearm. Anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense is ineligible for military service unless he or she has been pardoned and their rights restored or unless the felony record was expunged.
Anyone with a history of financial and credit difficulties and difficulty joining the military or obtaining a security clearance because he or she is considered to be susceptible to bribery and extortion.
A military security background check will look at various information, including:
- Previous names and aliases
- Previous addresses
- Previous employers over the past three years
- Credit check
- Criminal history
- Driving record check
Each branch of service has different guidelines regarding a disqualification from service based on a criminal history. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have moral character standards in addition to physical standards. Anyone with a criminal record can be disqualified because the military does not owe any citizen an opportunity to join. Serving in the military is considered to be a privilege.
The first part of the criminal history for a recruit is an interview with a recruiter. The recruiter will ask questions regarding any criminal history. Criminal history must include any minor traffic violations. This includes records that have been sealed or expunged and from offenses that occurred as a juvenile.
If a recruit is dishonest about his or her criminal history, there may be serious consequences and charges with a felony for submitting a fraudulent application.
A waiver is possible for some crimes, including:
- Civil offenses
- Minor non-traffic-related charges
- A combination of minor and misdemeanor charges
- A single serious misconduct felony charge
The waiver decision will look at whether or not there have been repeated offenses, and if there is evidence of the candidate having learned a lesson from their consequences.
There is no waiver offered for certain circumstances, including:
- Being drunk or on drugs during the enlistment process
- Being kicked out of the military for drug or alcohol abuse
- A history of marijuana use or a conviction of selling drugs
- Three or more drunk driving convictions
- Being on parole, probation, or other type of legal restraint
- Numerous serious civil convictions other than traffic violations
- Having a bad or dishonorable discharge
- Five or more misdemeanors resulting in a disqualifying status
A waiver is not required if someone is arrested but not charged. A waiver is also not required if the charges were dismissed without a guilty verdict.
Felony offenses make it difficult to obtain a waiver. The military has its own definition of a felony offense. This may be different from the definition in a person’s particular state.
Anyone entering the military should be of good moral character. The moral character enlistment standard strives to minimize entry of anyone likely to become a disciplinary case, a security risk, or who is disruptive of:
Military recruits must complete a moral character screening of credit and criminal background. This process looks for criminal records, credit issues, or juvenile adjudication records.
Moral standards for service acceptance are established to disqualify the following types of individuals:
- Anyone under any form of judicial restraint, including bond, probation, imprisonment, or parole
- Those with significant criminal records
- Anyone convicted of a felony without a waiver
- Anyone with a less than honorable discharge from previous military service
- Anyone who has exhibited antisocial behavior or other character traits that make them unfit to associate with military personnel
In processing a waiver request, the military looks at information about circumstances of the offense along with letters of recommendation regarding the applicant’s character or suitability for enlistment. These letters must come from responsible community leaders such as school officials, ministers, and law enforcement officials.
Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
Doing a background check on yourself before applying for a position with or joining the military will allow you as a felon to know exactly what will be discovered when the military does its review. A felon with any questions can contact an attorney. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.
There are different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run:
- From the court in which he or she was charged
- A credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is
- Driving records for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver
- An educational report through the National Student Clearing House
For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help. A felon would have the best chance at getting a job with the military or becoming a recruit by having his or her record expunged.
Tips for Success with the Military
Suggestions for a felon to increase his or her chances to be hired by or join the military are:
- Arrive early for an interview
- Dress appropriately
- Make a positive first impression on the interviewers
- Speak clearly
- Make a case for a new job opportunity
- Emphasize relevant experience and skills
- Be ready to provide a job history with a current resume
Don’t hide the fact that he or she has a felony conviction if it comes up. Instead, explain the facts about that conviction without emotion.
It is never a good idea to lie about one’s past on an application. This could result in not being considered for a job if the military finds out about it and could result in criminal prosecution for filing a fraudulent application. Highlight skills and abilities that qualify you for the job and focus on them during the interview.
Take responsibility for past actions and explain how you are putting your life in order. Doing your own background check allows you to know what an employer will see on your record.
Remember that you are not defined by your crime. You must be willing to seeing yourself in a different light and ready to establish an honest life. The best opportunity for success in a new life begins with having support from family and friends. After all, felons do make good employees.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not the military runs background checks? Have you or someone you know had the military run a background check? What was that like and was he or she successful in being hired or inducted? Please tell us in the comments below.