United States Navy and Marine Corps Criminal History Disqualifications
United States Navy and Marine Corps Criminal History Disqualifications
Prepared by the Legal Action Center
As with the other services, the United States Marine Corps and United States Navy screen applicants for "moral qualifications" (criminal history). This is done:
- a. To prevent enlistment of persons whose social habits, such as theft, arson, resistance to authority, etc., are a threat to unit moral and cohesiveness.
- b. 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.
- c. To ensure enlistees and their parents that the enlistee will not be thrown into close association with criminals.
Applicants with no criminal convictions, fines, or periods of restraint are morally eligible for enlistment. However, the voluntary disclosure, or recruiter discovery, of any form of police/criminal involvement by an applicant may require waiver of the moral disqualification.
It's important to note here that federal law requires applicants to divulge ALL criminal history on recruiting applications, including expunged, sealed, or juvenile records. Additionally, in most states, such records are accessible to military investigators, regardless of what you have heard to the contrary.
The process begins with an interview by the Recruiter, asking the applicant about any records of arrest, charges, juvenile court adjudications, traffic violations, probation periods, dismissed or pending charges or convictions, including those which have been expunged or sealed. Providing false information, or withholding required information is a federal offense, and individuals may be tried by Federal, civilian, or Military Court.
If the applicant admits to an offense, or the recruiter has reason to believe the applicant is concealing an offense, or a record is indicated during the Entrance National Agency Check (ENAC), then the recruiter will request a complete criminal record from local law enforcement agencies.
Some offenses can be waived, and others cannot. Different offenses require waiver approval at different levels in the recruiting chain-of-command.
It's important to note that applicants who require a waiver ARE NOT qualified for enlistment, unless/until a waiver is approved. The burden is on the applicant to prove to waiver authorities that they have overcome their disqualifications for enlistment, and that their acceptance would be in the best interests of the Military. Waiver authorities will consider the "whole person" concept when considering waiver applications.
In general, waivers are required for:
- Five to Nine minor traffic offenses (see appendix 1)
- Two to five more serious traffic offenses (see appendix 2)
- Two or more Class 1 minor non-traffic offenses (see appendix 3)
- Two to Nine Class 2 minor non-traffic offenses (see appendix 4)
- Two to five serious offenses (see appendix 5)
- One felony (Appendix 6)
Individuals with ten or more minor traffic offenses, six or more serious traffic offenses, ten or more Class 2 minor non-traffic offenses, six or more serious non-traffic offenses, or more than one felony are not eligible for a waiver.
Definitions and General Guidelines:
Adverse Juvenile Adjudication.
- a. Determination by a judge or jury in juvenile court proceedings that the juvenile is guilty of, or that the individual committed the acts alleged in the petition or complaint, based either on the merits of the case or on the juvenile's admission of guilt or plea of guilty, and that the determination was recorded in the court's records, and
- (1) Regardless of whether sentence was then imposed, withheld, or suspended, and,
- (2) Regardless of subsequent proceedings in the same case to delete an initial determination of guilt from court records, based on evidence of rehabilitation or a satisfactory period of probation or supervision. Examples of "subsequent proceedings" used in juvenile courts in the United States are: "expungement," "record sealing," reopening the case to change the original finding of "guilty" or "delinquency," or the plea of "guilty" or admission of the truth of the allegations in the petition to "not guilty," dismissal of the original petition, setting aside the adjudication of "delinquency." Such subsequent proceedings merely recognize rehabilitation and do not alter the fact that the juvenile committed the act for which the individual was tried.
- b. The term "adverse juvenile adjudication" is an adjudication as a juvenile delinquent, wayward minor, youthful offender, delinquent child, juvenile offender, incorrigible, and a declaration of the juvenile as a ward of the court, or an award of probation or punishment by a juvenile court as a result of an offense. The term "ward of the court" does not include the adjudication of a juvenile as a "dependent," as "neglected," or as "abandoned."
- c. For purposes of a waiver, processing will be based on the severity of the specific offense for which an applicant was adjudged. The offense's severity will be determined by the Uniform Guide List for Typical Offenses, above or by the notes contained therein if the offense is not specifically listed by name. Once the request for a moral waiver is at the proper decision level, factors such as the applicant's age at the time of the offense, the actual sentence imposed by the court, etc., will be considered.
- A sentence of a specific amount of labor to be performed for the benefit of the community at large. Community service is a form of fine or restitution, but is not a form of restraint. Applicants who have been directed by judicial authority to perform community service are not eligible for enlistment until such service has been completed and the appropriate waiver has been granted.
- a. Determination of "guilty" by a judge or jury, based either on the merits of a case or on a defendant's plea of "guilty" or of "nolo contendere":
- (1) Regardless of whether sentence was then imposed, withheld, or suspended; and
- (2) Regardless of subsequent proceedings in the case to delete an initial determination of "guilty" from court records because of evidence of rehabilitation or completion of a satisfactory probationary period. Examples of "subsequent proceedings" used throughout the United States in adult offender cases are: "pardon," "expungement," reopening of the case to change the original finding of "guilty" or pleas of "guilty" or "nolo contendere" to "not guilty" and dismissal of the charge, "amnesty," or setting aside of conviction. Such subsequent proceedings recognize rehabilitation, but do not alter the fact that the offender committed the criminal act.
- b. Sanctions imposed by a law enforcement or quasi-law enforcement agency in place of an official court hearing or trial will NOT BE considered "convictions." Sanctions of this nature require a review by the Recruiting Service. See the following examples:
- (1) An applicant is caught by the police defacing public property by painting graffiti on a bridge. The officer directs the applicant to sandpaper the bridge until it is clean, at which time he will forget about the incident. This is a sanction and requires review by the recruiting service.
- (2) An applicant is caught by the police defacing public property by painting graffiti on a bridge. The applicant is charged, but subsequently referred to a county-sanctioned juvenile first offender's program. Although the applicant never appears in court, and probably has no court record, he requires a waiver as if convicted.
- Note: As a general rule of thumb, any requirements imposed by an officer of the court (i.e., judge, magistrate, district attorney, assistant district attorney, juvenile officer, or probation officer), will be viewed as a conviction for enlistment purposes. Pretrial intervention or diversionary programs will be considered a "conviction". Similarly, requirements imposed by law enforcement officials, (i.e., police, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, or state troopers), will be viewed as a sanction. The key question is, "Was this a formal program of the court?"
- c. Convictions or charges that have been reduced for expediency, as in "plea-bargaining," or plea to a reduced or lesser charge will be waived at the level appropriate for the original charges.
- Some states have established procedures for the subsequent "expunging of the record," "dismissal of charges," or "pardon" upon evidence of rehabilitation of the offender. Such action has the legal effect of extinguishing the initial "conviction" or "adverse juvenile adjudication" so that, under state law, the applicant has no record of conviction or adverse juvenile adjudication. In spite of this action, the record must be revealed and a waiver of the applicant's disqualification(s) is required at the proper enlistment decision level.
- "Nolle Prosequi" is a declaration that the plaintiff in a civil case, or the prosecutor in a criminal case, will drop prosecution of all, or part, of a suit or indictment. Nolle Prosequi" is an unresolved judicial proceeding. It is not considered a form of restraint, and is not necessarily a bar to enlistment. It is, however, considered a conviction for enlistment purposes and a waiver is required. Accordingly, an appropriate level review is required prior to enlistment to ensure that the court's finding of nolle prosequi was based on the merits of the individual case and not to facilitate enlistment into the Armed Forces. If court documents by court authorities (i.e. Judge, DA, A.D.A.) showing the "nolle prosequi" were the result of insufficient evidence to convict or charge, then this will not be viewed as a conviction.
- "Nolo Contendere" is a plea made by a defendant in a criminal action equal to an admission of guilt. With this plea a defendant is subject to punishment, but leaves open the possibilities for denial of the alleged facts in other proceedings. A waiver is required.
- The suspension of a sentence of an individual convicted but not yet imprisoned for that conviction, on condition of continued good behavior and regular reporting to (under the supervision of) a probation officer or other agent designated by the court. Regional legal terms synonymous to "probation" will be treated exactly as probation is used throughout this information page.
- "Restraint" includes suspension of a sentence (to include unconditional suspended sentences), confinement or incarceration in any institution, probation (to include unsupervised unconditional probation), or parole.
Sealed Juvenile Records.
- Several states have provisions for "sealing juvenile records" which serves to limit disclosures on the part of law enforcement officials and judicial authorities. In spite of the legal effect of such action, the applicant must reveal the record, and a moral waiver must be granted to authorize enlistment in these cases.
Unconditional Suspended Sentence and Unsupervised Unconditional Probation.
- An unconditional suspended sentence and unsupervised unconditional probation are considered a suspended sentence and probation imposed by a court, respectively, even though the court imposes no conditions:
- a. Regarding an individual's freedom of movement, or
- b. Requiring the payment of damages, or
- c. Requiring periodic reporting by individuals to an officer of the court (to include a probation officer), or
- d. Involving supervision by an officer of the court (including a probation officer) upon the individual.
- Applicants currently under these forms of restraint are not eligible for enlistment until the term of the sentence or probation has been fulfilled.
Enlistment As An Alternative To Prosecution.
- Applicants may not enlist as an alternative to criminal prosecution, indictment, incarceration, parole, probation, or other punitive sentence. They are ineligible for enlistment until the original assigned sentence would have been completed.
- Special Requirements for Substance Abuse:
- No drug-related waiver will be considered without a signed, complete copy of the Drug Abuse Screening Form.
- Waivers will not be granted to non-prior service applicants who:
- a. Have a history of drug or alcohol dependency or addiction; or
- b. Have a court conviction for any drug offense (except simple possession of cannabis [30 grams or less], and steroids); or
- c. Admit to trafficking marijuana or other illegal drugs. (Note: "Trafficking" in drugs will be considered the unlicensed sale or trade of drugs for profit.)
- d. Applicants who have been disqualified for testing positive on the DAT at MEPS.
Prior Service applicants who have received a court-martial, Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP), or discharge as a result of drug use or drug related offense (to include positive urinalysis) are not eligible for enlistment/ reenlistment. No waiver is authorized. Applicants who have received an Entry Level Separation as a result of drug use or drug related offense (to include positive urinalysis) require a mandatory 2 year wait. No waiver is authorized.
- Convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia will be treated, for the purpose of an enlistment waiver, as if they were convictions for possession of the actual drug associated with the particular piece of paraphernalia.
- The commanding officer of the recruiting station may waive the illegal use of prescription drugs prior to enlistment in the DEP when an applicant has been administered a prescription drug for medical purposes by a parent or person acting in the capacity of "loco parentis" when that drug has not been prescribed for the applicant. Examples include, but are not limited to, Valium and Tylenol III. All other illegal use of prescription drugs requires a waiver from the district commander.
Each decision authority (e.g., the recruiter; NCOIC; the CO recruiting station; the CO, recruiting district; or the CG, recruiting region) may deem the extent of an applicant's pre-service drug involvement to be excessive and opt not to favorably endorse the applicant's waiver request thereby terminating processing.
Failure to Disclose.
- An applicant may be discharged for failure to disclose use or abuse of illegal or prescribed drugs, to include convictions resulting from that use or abuse. The recruiter will advise the applicant of the serious ramifications which could result from failure to disclose.
Regardless of state or local law, for enlistment purposes, the following offenses fall into the Category of Minor Traffic Offenses:
- Blocking or retarding traffic.
- Careless driving.
- Crossing yellow line, driving left of center.
- Disobeying traffic lights, signs, or signals.
- Driving on shoulder.
- Driving uninsured vehicle.
- Driving with blocked vision.
- Driving with expired plates or without plates.
- Driving without license in possession.
- Driving without registration or with improper registration.
- Driving wrong way on one-way street.
- Failure to have vehicle under control.
- Failure to keep to right or in lane.
- Failure to signal.
- Failure to stop for or yield to pedestrian.
- Failure to yield right-of-way.
- Faulty equipment (defective exhaust, horn, lights, mirror, muffler, signal device, steering device, tailpipe, windshield wipers, and so forth).
- Following too closely.
- Improper backing: backing into intersection or highway; backing on expressway; backing over crosswalk.
- Improper blowing of horn.
- Improper parking: restricted area, fire hydrant, double parking, (excluding overtime parking).
- Improper passing: Passing on right; in no-passing zone; improper lane change; passing stopped school bus with flashing lights; pedestrian in crosswalk.
- Improper turn.
- Invalid or unofficial inspection sticker; failure to display inspection sticker.
- Leaving key in ignition.
- License plates improperly displayed or not displayed.
- Operating overloaded vehicle.
- Racing, drag racing, contest for speed.
- Spinning wheels, improper start.
- Zigzagging or weaving in traffic.
NOTE: If the conviction/adverse adjudication is not listed in the uniform guide list for typical offenses then federal, state, or local laws apply for enlistment purposes. Five or more minor traffic offenses require a waiver. Ten or more minor traffic offenses is disqualifying, and cannot be waivered.
Regardless of state or local law, for enlistment purposes, the following offenses fall into the Category of Serious Traffic Offenses:
- Driving with suspended or revoked license or without license.
- Failure to comply with officer's directions.
- Reckless driving (Fines $200 or less).
NOTE: If the conviction/adverse adjudication is not listed in the uniform guide list for typical offenses then federal, state, or local laws apply for enlistment purposes. Two or more serious traffic offenses require a waiver. Six or more serious traffic offenses is disqualifying, and cannot be waivered.
Regardless of state or local law, for enlistment purposes, the following offenses fall into the Category of Class 1 Minor Non-Traffic Offenses:
- Curfew violation.
- Disturbing the peace.
- Drinking liquor or alcoholic beverages on train, plane, or other conveyance.
- Drinking in public (non-disorderly)
- Dumping refuse near highway, littering.
- Liquor or alcoholic beverages: unlawful possession, consumption in public place, or open container.
- Mischief (painting water towers, graffiti, throwing water-balloons).
- Purchase, possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages by minor (underage drinking).
- Trespass on property (non criminal).
- Violation of fireworks law.
- Violation of fish and game laws.
NOTE: If the conviction/adverse adjudication is not listed in the uniform guide list for typical offenses then federal, state, or local laws apply for enlistment purposes. Two or more Class 1 minor non-traffic offenses require a waiver.
Regardless of state or local law, for enlistment purposes, the following offenses fall into the Category of Class 2 Minor Non-Traffic Offenses:
- Abusive language under circumstances to provoke breach of peace.
- Altered identification (driver's license, birth certificate, and so forth), when intent is to purchase alcoholic beverages.
- Committing or creating nuisance.
- Damaging road signs.
- Disorderly conduct: creating disturbance, boisterous conduct.
- Failure to appear, failure to comply with a judgment, failure to answer (or disobeying) a summons, or failure to pay a fine.
- Fighting, participating in a brawl.
- Illegal betting or gambling: operating illegal handbook, raffle, lottery, punch board, watching cockfight.
- Juvenile non-criminal misconduct: beyond parental control, incorrigible, runaway, truant, or wayward.
- Possession of indecent publications or pictures (other than child pornography offenses).
- Theft, shoplifting (value $100 or less): only if committed under 16 years of age.
- Unlawful assembly.
- Vandalism: injuring or defacing public property or property of another; shooting out street lights; or similar offenses where damage is assessed at $200 or less.
NOTE: Consider offenses of a similar nature as minor non-traffic offenses. In doubtful cases, apply the following rule:
- If the maximum confinement under state or local law is 6-months, or less, treat the offense as a Class 2 minor non-traffic offense.
NOTE: If the conviction/adverse adjudication is not listed in the uniform guide list for typical offenses then federal, state, or local laws apply for enlistment purposes. Two or more Class 2 minor non-traffic offenses require a waiver. Ten or more Class 2 minor non-traffic offenses are disqualifying, and no waiver is authorized.
Regardless of state or local law, for enlistment purposes, the following offenses fall into the Category of Serious Offenses:
- Assault consummated by battery.
- Carrying concealed weapon; possession of brass knuckles.
- Check, worthless, making or uttering, with intent to defraud or deceive ($500 or less).
- Child pornography offenses.
- Conspiring to commit misdemeanor.
- Contempt of court (includes non-payment of child support or alimony required by court order).
- Contributing to delinquency of minor (includes purchase of alcoholic beverages).
- Criminal trespass
- Desecration of grave.
- Discharging firearm through carelessness or within municipal limits.
- Driving while drunk, impaired, intoxicated, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Drunk and disorderly and related offenses.
- Failure to stop and render aid after accident.
- Indecent exposure.
- Indecent, insulting, or obscene language communicated directly or by telephone.
- Killing domestic animal.
- Leaving scene of accident (hit and run) involving no personal injury and property damage is under $500.
- Liquor or alcoholic: unlawful manufacture or sale.
- Malicious/criminal mischief: throwing rocks on highway, throwing missiles at athletic contests, or throwing objects at vehicle.
- Negligent homicide.
- Petty larceny; embezzlement (value $500 or less).
- Possession of marijuana under 30 grams or steroids (requires District waiver)
- Reckless driving (when fine assessed is $201 or more).
- Removing property under lien.
- Removing property from public grounds.
- Resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding.
- Selling, leasing, or transferring weapons to minor or unauthorized individual.
- Shooting from highway or on public road.
- Stolen property, knowingly receiving (value $500 or less).
- Theft, shoplifting (value $500 or less). (If under age 16 and value is $100 or less, treat as class 2 minor non-traffic offense).
- Unlawful carrying of firearms; carrying concealed firearm.
- Unlawful entry.
- Use of telephone to abuse, annoy, harass, threaten, or torment another.
- Vandalism: injuring or defacing public property or property of another; shooting out street lights; or similar offenses where damage is assessed at over $200.
- Willfully discharging firearm so as to endanger life; shooting in a public place.
- Wrongful appropriation of motor vehicle; joyriding; driving motor vehicle without owner's consent (if intent is to permanently deprive owner of vehicle, consider as grand larceny under felony offenses listed separately).
NOTE: Consider offenses of comparable seriousness as serious offenses. In doubtful cases, apply the following rule:
- If the maximum confinement under state or local law exceeds 6-months or is equal to or less than 1-year, treat offense as a serious offense.
NOTE: If the conviction/adverse adjudication is not listed in the uniform guide list for typical offenses then federal, state, or local laws apply for enlistment purposes. Two or more serious offenses require a waiver. Six or more serious offenses are disqualifying, and no waiver is authorized.
Regardless of state or local law, for enlistment purposes, the following offenses fall into the Category of Felony Offenses:
- Aggravated assault; with dangerous weapon; assault intentionally inflicting great bodily harm; assault with intent to commit felony.
- Assault and battery on law enforcement officer or child under 16 years of age.
- Attempt to commit felony.
- Breaking and entering (all types).
- Carnal knowledge of child under 16.
- Check, worthless, making or uttering, with intent to defraud or deceive ($501 or more).
- Conspiring to commit felony.
- Criminal libel.
- Draft evasion.
- Forgery; knowingly uttering or passing forged instrument (except for altered identification for purchase of alcoholic beverages).
- Grand larceny; embezzlement (value $501 or more).
- Illegal drugs (See special rules for drug offenses).
- Impersonating a police officer, civil official, military officer.
- Indecent acts or liberties with child under 16, molestation.
- Indecent assault.
- Kidnapping, abduction.
- Leaving scene of accident (hit and run) involving personal injury and/or property damage is over $500.
- Mail matter: abstracting, destroying, obstructing, opening, secreting, stealing, or taking.
- Mail, depositing obscene or indecent matter.
- Maiming; disfiguring.
- Obstructing justice.
- Public record; altering, concealing, destroying, mutilating, obliterating, or removing.
- Sedition; soliciting to commit sedition.
- Stolen property, knowingly receiving (value over $500).
- Theft, shoplifting (value over $500).
NOTE: Consider offenses of comparable seriousness as a felony. In doubtful cases, apply the following rule:
- If maximum confinement under state or local law exceeds 1-year, treat the offense as a felony.
A "felony" will be defined as a conviction or adverse adjudication by civil authorities (foreign or domestic), or action taken which is tantamount to a finding of guilty of an offense for which the maximum penalty is death or confinement under state or local law exceeding one year, regardless of state or local laws.
An offense will be classified a "felony" without regard to the offender's age when the offense was committed, or whether the offense was disposed of by juvenile or adult criminal proceedings. An offense classified as a felony above, will be classified as a felony for enlistment, regardless of state or local law.
In rare instances an offense may be classified as a single incident felony if more than one felony results from a single incident. Generally, if the multiple incidents are not separated by space and time, they may be considered as a single incident for waiver purposes. In order to be considered, the multiple felonies must be related and must derive from a single incident. For example, a housebreaker who steals a stereo might be considered a single incident felony for 1) felony burglary and 2) felony theft.
A single felony requires a waiver. More than one felonies are disqualifying, and no waiver is authorized.