Can You Join the Military if You’ve Been Convicted of a Crime?

By Carlos Gamino

When you want to join the military – any branch (including the brand-new Space Force) – the military is going to conduct a background check on you. It’s not just an ordinary background check, either; your recruiter will take your fingerprints and require you to sign a form that says you consent to an FBI background check.

So what if the recruiter finds something on your record? What if you were arrested just after high school? What if you were convicted of a crime?

Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Join the Military With a Criminal History?

In some cases, you’re allowed to join the military with a criminal history. For example, if you have a juvenile record for shoplifting or another “minor” crime, your recruiter may be able to get you a waiver that allows you to join. Likewise, if you were arrested because police suspected you of a crime, but the state dropped the charges or you were eventually found not guilty, the recruiter can most likely help you join the military (provided you meet all the other requirements, that is).

Related: Bouncing back after a conviction

Wisconsin Expungement and the Military

If you were arrested and released without being charged, or if the charges were dropped or dismissed, you may be able to have your record expunged easily. Likewise, if you were convicted of a prostitution offense because you were a victim of human trafficking, you can ask the court to expunge those convictions immediately.

If you were convicted of a crime, you may be able to clear your record through criminal record expungement so you don’t have to deal with the waiver process, which can take several weeks (and can be denied for any reason). Expungement isn’t for everyone, though – you have to meet certain criteria to qualify. The court can only erase your criminal record if:

  • You were under the age of 25 when you committed the crime
  • The crime carried a maximum period of imprisonment of six years or less
  • You have successfully completed the terms of your sentence

Expungement may be the best way into the military if you have a criminal record. If you meet the criteria for expungement, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to an attorney about your situation.

Carlos Gamino