Can I Join the Army with a Misdemeanor on My Record?

Army Criminal History Waivers - Misdemeanors

Army troops walk down a street in combat.
Can you join the military with a misdemeanor on your record?. Michael Sugrue / Getty Images

Joining the military is not for those "with nowhere else to go".  The military requires applicants to be of good moral standing. This means a recruit must not have committed any serious crimes.  Misdemeanors, by nature and definition, are not necessarily serious crimes like a felony would be, but depending on the severity of the issue, number of times a misdemeanor was committed, and at what age it was committed, a recruit may apply for a waiver.

Any applicant for enlistment in the United States Army who has received two, three, or four civil convictions or other adverse dispositions for a misdemeanor offense.requires a waiver. The waiver approval authority is the recruiting battalion commander, acting commander, or executive officer.  There are actually felony waivers, but the approving authority is much higher and the likelihood of approval is lower.

Typical Misdemeanor Offenses

  • Altered driver's license or identification - fake ID.
  • Assault, fighting or battery (more than $500 fine or restitution or confinement).
  • Carrying of a weapon on school grounds (Note: The Army classifies this as a serious offense, even if charged/convicted as a misdemeanor. This includes carrying a weapon on school grounds, when a penalty was imposed by school officials -- for example, expulsion, suspension, fine, or community service).
  • Check, worthless, making or uttering, with intent to defraud or deceive (less than $500).
  • Conspiring to commit a misdemeanor.
  • Contempt of court for misdemeanor offenses.
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
  • Crimes against the family (nonsupport of family).
  • Criminal or malicious mischief (less than $500 fine or restitution or confinement).
  • Desecration of the American flag.
  • Desecration of a grave.
  • Domestic battery/violence, not considered Lautenburg Amendment (Note: The Army classifies this as a serious offense, even if charged/convicted as a misdemeanor. See below for Lautenburg Amendment Definition).
  • Driving while drugged or intoxicated, or driving while ability impaired (Note: The Army classifies this as a serious offense, even if charged/convicted as a misdemeanor.).
  • Failure to register with Selective Service.
  • Failure to stop and render aid after an accident.
  • False bomb threat.
  • Glue sniffing/paint/chemical sniffing.
  • Harassment, menacing or stalking.
  • Illegal burning without intent to commit arson
  • Illegal or fraudulent use of a credit card, bank card, or automated teller card (value less than $500).
  • Indecent exposure.
  • Indecent, insulting, or obscene language communicated directly or by telephone to another person.
  • Joy riding.
  • Larceny or conversion (value of less than $500).
  • Leaving scene of an accident or hit and run.
  • Looting.
  • Mailing to include e-mail of obscene or indecent matter.
  • Mailbox destruction.
  • Permitting a DUI.
  • Prostitution or solicitation for prostitution (Note: The Army classifies this as a serious offense, even if charged/convicted as a misdemeanor.).
  • Possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia (Note: The Army classifies this as a serious offense, even if charged/convicted as a misdemeanor.).
  • Reckless driving, careless, or imprudent (considered a misdemeanor when the fine is $300 or more or when confinement is imposed; otherwise, considered a minor traffic offense).
  • Reckless endangerment.
  • Resisting arrest or eluding police.
  • Selling or leasing weapons.
  • Stolen property, knowingly received (value less than $500).
  • Criminal trespass.
  • Unauthorized use/taking of a vehicle/conveyance from a family member.
  • Unlawful carrying of firearms or carrying concealed firearm.
  • Unlawful entry.
  • Unlawful use of long-distance telephone calling card.
  • Use of telephone to abuse, annoy, harass, threaten, or torment another.
  • Vandalism (more than $500 fine or restitution or confinement).
  • Violation of probation.
  • Willfully discharging a firearm so as to endanger life; shooting in public.

The definition of domestic battery/violence under the Lautenburg law is as follows: At the time of the offense, the convicted offender was one of the following:

  1. A current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
  2. A person with whom the victim shared a child in common.
  3. A person who was cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian.
  4. A person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian.