can felons join the navy

Can you join the Navy if you have a Felony?

Can Felons Join the Navy? Has your dream always been to get into the navy? But now you are slammed with a felony and wonder if you can ever achieve that dream.

The thing is a crime can have a substantial adverse impact on one’s life. That is why the best option and advice is to stay out of trouble.

Many have complained of losing their jobs and positions because of felony charges. And the case with the navy is no different. You might get rejected or accepted with a felony. It all depends on the administration.

But your chances are quite slim compared to people with a decent record. In this post, we will find out if the navy accepts felons and what individuals in this condition can do.

can felons join the navy

You have been convicted of a felony, but you’re now thinking about joining the US Navy. You’ve probably heard that they sometimes accept felons, and you have been probably wondering whether or not you’d be able to be accepted as well. So, can you join the Navy with a felony?

To answer your question from the get-go, we’ll say that the Navy, as well as basically all other military branches, accept felons in certain cases.

However, it is rather difficult to get enlisted in the Navy as a felon, and there aren’t any hard rules that would help you understand whether you are eligible or not. Plenty of factors play a role in the Navy, and your best bet would be to speak to a recruiter directly.

Now, we’ll try to give you a better idea of how the Navy treats convictions.

Related: Can Felons Join the Army?

How the Navy Defines Felony Conviction

How the Navy defines a felony will give you more understanding and enable you to apply the right measures in your pursuit of a place in the service.

Even if you have a felony charge hanging on your shoulders, your dreams of joining the navy, if you are truly ready, should be kept alive. In situations that are uncertain, the navy would apply the following rules when engaging applicants.

If an individual is confined as a result of an offense he or she commits under the local legislation, and the offense surpasses a year, then that is usually viewed as a felony.

In another way, if the state where the individual is undergoing trial names the crime a felony, then the navy has no other choice than to adopt the same name when screening applicants.

Recommended: Military Background Check

Why a felony can prevent you from enlisting

The navy and other services don’t just recruit anyone. They require recruits to meet specific moral and character standards, because of the nature of the commission. Recruits are, however, meant to undergo the screening process before being made to join the service.

After the first screening by a recruiter, an interview that covers the applicant’s background information is also done.

At this stage, the individual’s former records are usually pulled out. If the interviewer finds any suspicion or misconduct, then that person’s chance of making it into the navy would become slim or difficult.

In fact, in most cases, a search to ascertain an individual’s financial credit is also conducted not only criminal records. So have in mind that your credit history can be used as part of the decision process to enlist applicants.

Here is the service’s position on the moral character of recruits.

  1. An individual seeking to enlist in the service must have sound moral character. The reason for this is to reduce the entrance of individuals that pose a grave security risk, disrupt good morale, order, and discipline. And these moral standards set by the navel or other security services are meant to disqualify the following set of people:
  • Those that are undergoing judicial restraint of any sort. It could be imprisonment, probation, or parole, as the case may be.
  • People with serious criminal records to their names. One basic fact is a person arrested for a felony which is a serious crime, can request a waiver that will make them eligible to enlist in the navy. The procedure is not as simple as it sounds. Approval depends on the case of the individual. In this post, we will discuss that in detail. But know that being able to adjust to your usual civilian life at least for a considerable period after being released from prison matters.

One other thing about a person’s character the navel considers is individuals who have reportedly displayed antisocial character or other character traits. As a result, these traits might make them unfit to even associate with the navy or any other service.

Does the Navy allow felons to enlist?

The answer to the above question is yes. But don’t get too excited, because there are conditions, and steps one needs to follow. The Navy Seals is one of the most reputable security services in the world. So they are always looking for the best candidates to enlist.

That makes it a bit challenging for those with felonies to pass through the screening process and secure a spot. But technically speaking, one with a felony can still join the navy

Conditions individuals with a felony can apply for a waiver to join the navy

Individuals who had faced one felony charge while they were adults or at least two juvenile charges of a felony can apply to enlist in the navy. But first, they need to apply for a waiver. If the moral waiver is accepted, then the individual can join the navy.

Once it is rejected, the application will not be considered. Note that people who can apply for this moral waiver are those with single felony charges. Those with more than one adult felony to their names cannot apply.

Felony types that lead to automatic disqualification

As earlier said, individuals with one felony can apply for a waiver. But there are conditions or felony types that can lead to automatic disqualification.

That means the candidate or applicant’s file would not be considered. In fact, that individual is not even eligible to apply for a moral waiver.


Normally, neither the Navy nor any other US military branch accepts felons. However, it is still possible on a case-by-case basis. What would make it possible for you to be enlisted in the Navy is a felony waiver.

A felony waiver is a special permission granted to applicants with a felony. It allows a previously convicted applicant to be enlisted in the US Armed Forces in spite of their felony conviction.

Recruiting standards may vary slightly from military branch to branch. However, the recruiting standards are strict across all military branches, and it isn’t easy to get enlisted in them.

Moral waiver chart

Number of offensesWaiver Authority
Traffic Violations5 or moreNRD Commanding Officer
Non-Traffic OffensesUp to 4No waiver required
5-7NRDCommander Officer
8 or moreNo waiver authorized
Misconduct1Waiver necessity determined by the NRD Commanding Officer
2-4NRD Commanding Officer
5 or moreNo waiver authorized
Major misconduct1-2*NRC Commander
2 juvenile offenses or 1 adult and 1 juvenile offense
2 adult or 3 or more juvenile offensesNo waiver authorized
* No more than 1 adversely adjudicated major misconduct offense

Combination rules for offenses for non-traffic and misconduct offenses

Combination of offensesWaiver authority
1 M and 4-6 NT offensesNRD Commanding Officer


2 M and up to 4 NT offenses
3 M and up to 3 NT offenses
3 M and 4 or more NT offensesNo waiver authorized
8 or more NT+M offenses
1 major misconduct and three or more M or NT

These charts have been developed in order to filter those applicants whose habits may be a threat to the Navy’s effectiveness. At the same time, it allows those who’ve had just a few indiscretions to serve in the Navy.

Can you join the navy with a felony? It will depend on a number of factors:

  • The nature of your offense.
  • The circumstances of the offense.
  • The recency of the offense, as well as its frequency.
  • The applicant’s age and maturity when committing the offense.
  • The likelihood of new offenses.

It should be noted that any kind of felony is a serious disqualification for enlistment in the Navy. And while your conviction may be waived, it doesn’t mean that it will be waived.

Self-admitted crimes and offenses are going to be processed in the same way as adverse adjudications. They are classified and approached in the same way as other offenses would be. However, the fact of a self-admission may play a role in determining your eligibility for enlistment.

Certain felonies are disqualified automatically and permanently. Among those felonies are any offenses related to sexual abuse, as well as indecent acts with minors. In addition, violent felonies again will most likely be disqualifying.

It generally is very difficult to obtain a felony waiver from the US Armed Forces. And aside from the nature of your offense, other seemingly minor factors may also play a huge role in a successful enlistment.

Your personal traits may serve as an indicator of whether or not you are suitable for service in the Navy. For example, if you were dishonest or impolite, you would be very likely to be disqualified from enlistment.

Speaking of honesty. Honesty is crucial because it will allow you not only to show that you have goodwill but also to avoid any legal complications. Providing false or incomplete information is considered a federal offense, so make sure to provide your criminal record in its entirety.

And by this, we mean that you should disclose all your offenses, even those that have been expunged, cleared, sealed, or set aside.

A cleared conviction will demonstrate that the court has considered you rehabilitated, but if you don’t disclose its records, you may run into problems.

The current demands of the Navy are also going to play a major role. If the Navy has a shortage of applicants, it may consider issuing an increased number of waivers.

This doesn’t mean that they will be enlisting sex offenders though, for example. It will just mean that a qualifying offense has a higher likelihood of being waived, given that the applicant has the required traits.

Be mindful that you most likely won’t be able to find information online that would be applicable to your case. As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty of factors in play, and only a recruiting officer would be able to provide you with an answer specific to your case.

When consulting or applying, remember to be honest about your criminal records. We’ve repeated this several times, but it indeed is of crucial importance for your application. Don’t think that you will be able to lie or blame someone else for your charges.

Your criminal records along with your background will be checked, and believe us, the decision of the judge is going to have a higher priority for the recruiters than your claims.

The majority of these cases are related to sex crimes, such as;

  • Rape
  • Possession of child porn
  • Distribution of child porn
  • Kidnapping a minor
  • An assault on someone with the intention to rape

Before we proceed to the Navy offense classification, there are certain important definitions to know about.


During adjudication, a judge reviews evidence and argumentation in order to come to a decision that would determine the rights and obligations of the parties involved in the process.

When the judge or other adjudicating authority places a condition that would lead to the dismissal, acquittal, or dropping of the charges, the adjudication is considered adverse.

For the purposes of enlistment, even if your charges have been dropped with any condition, adverse adjudication will be considered a guilty finding and will require a waiver. This includes any charges that have been pardoned, dismissed, or disposed of in any manner.

Check This Also: Joining The US Military With A Felony


In some states, there are procedures for pardon, dismissal of charges, or expungement of records upon evidence of the offender’s rehabilitation.

From a legal point of view, such an action has the effect of extinguishing the initial conviction from the applicant’s criminal records. But even if a conviction has been removed from the record, it must be revealed to the recruiting authorities.


Probation is the suspension of the sentence of a convicted individual. Probation requires the individual to abstain from further unlawful activity and may or may not include restricting conditions imposed by authorities.

Probation can be unsupervised/unconditional – where the individual has no restrictions on freedom of movement, reporting requirements, etc. – and supervised/conditional.

Needless to say, the limits imposed during supervised probation restrict an individual from being enlisted in the army. Persons under unconditional probation are eligible for enlistment.

Non-traffic offense

If the maximum confinement is four months or less under local law, an offense is generally considered a non-traffic offense.

Misconduct offense

If the maximum confinement exceeds four months but is less than one year, an offense is generally considered a misconduct offense.

Major misconduct offense

If the maximum confinement is one year or more under local law, an offense is generally considered a major misconduct offense.

A major misconduct offense roughly corresponds to felonies in the sense of maximum imprisonment term. Under state laws, felonies are offenses that are punished with more than 1-year imprisonment.

A felony charge which is later amended to a lesser offense will be considered a felony for enlistment purposes.

Reasons felons should be honest when trying to join the navy

Going the prison isn’t the end of the world. But there are certain privileges you might lose because of the situation. For instance, attempting to join the navy or seeking a job. It might be difficult. But being honest can make the impossible possible.

The navy or employer would still conduct thorough background checks, but speaking the truth will enable the enlistment officer to accept that you have changed.

The thing is even if you are applying for a waiver, the recruitment can still disqualify you. So the most important thing is to show remorse and does not be disrespectful.

Again, prove that what transpired that led to your arrest was entirely your fault. Do not try to shift the blame to someone else. Doing so will do you no good.


There are things felons are expected to do when enlisting to join the navy. The navy is one of the military outfits with a high reputation that is why they always go for the best candidates.

A sound moral character is one of the things they consider when recruiting people. And facing a felony charge does not prove you are a good fit for the job. But depending on the felony, you can apply for a waiver to enlist in the navy.

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