Once a criminal record is established, it will follow you for the rest of your life. It has been known to hinder a broad range of opportunities for people, by preventing them from landing certain careers, not being able to rent property or limit have access to important government resources and benefits. But one of the largest complaints that individuals with criminal records have expressed about is their eligibility to join the military.
The United States military provides a large number of employment opportunities for those who ultimately enlist. However, before people are allowed to join, they must meet specific standards. Although the six branches of the Armed Forces (the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, Army National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard), all have unique recruiting criteria, each branch holds the moral character of each applicant in high regard. This is why moral character screenings are required for all applicants.
Moral Character Screenings
Moral character screenings determine the acceptability of applicants who have convictions on their record. They are conducted by recruiters who are tasked with looking into the criminal background and credit history of applicants. Ultimately, the main goal of these screenings is to prevent people who could misrepresent the military and cause issues from joining. The whole process consists of screening procedures and an interview. Screening procedures are notorious for being incredibly extensive and lengthy, as each conviction and the details of these cases are assessed. And once an interview has been conducted, applicants are expected to disclose all run-ins with law enforcement, charges, and convictions they've experienced.
Expungements and Military Guidelines
For individuals who have expunged prior criminal convictions, they may think that moral character screenings will not be a problem for them. After all, once a conviction or charges are expunged, they technically no longer exist. However, when it comes to enlisting in the military, the rules significantly change. According to the Code of Federal regulations, all applicants are required to disclose all sealed, expunged or juvenile records. The failure to do so or the disclosing of false information could lead to a federal offense.
Criminal Record Waivers
Fortunately, there is a way in which individuals who have acquired a criminal record (whether convictions and charges have been expunged or sealed) can still enlist. Interested applicants must obtain a criminal record waiver. Whether or not a waiver is required depends on the offense. The following individuals with a criminal record will be required to get a waiver:
- Applicants with six or more minor traffic offenses, where the fine was $100 or more per offense
- Applicants who have committed an offense while they were a juvenile
- Applicants who have been arrested, cited, charged or held and allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense
- Applicants who plead guilty to to the criminal possession of stolen property ($100 or less)
- Applicants who have committed what the military considers a felony offense. For example, aggravated assault, burglary, manslaughter, robbery, narcotics possession etc.
Philadelphia Expungement Attorney
For more information about your expungement and how it will affect your eligibility to enlist, contact an expungement attorney. Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in the state's expungement processes. Contact him today for help.