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Waiver Charts for Criminal and Conduct Offenses

Moral Waivers for Enlistment

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Published: May 23, 2010
Updated: July 7, 2021

A couple of years ago, the Department of Defense (DOD) decided to try and make the waiver report uniform across all the military recruiting organizations. Previously, each service had their own way of reporting; as an example, what may have been called a misdemeanor by the Navy may have been ruled in a different category by the Marine Corps. Making the changes forced the Navy to change some of the terminology and limits of what is waiverable for enlistment to meet the DOD’s requirements. a couple of examples are, minor misdemeanors are now called Non-Traffic offenses, and any felony and some serious misdemeanors are now considered a Major Misconduct.

Also changed, was the various combination of charges that could be waived. Because of the consolidation of reporting rules, this guide should be in-line with all the military branches’ reporting requirements (the level at which a waiver may be required may vary slightly from one service to another).

I have been trying to avoid posting about this topic because of the numerous factors that go into a waiver determination, but because of all the email questions I do receive, police involvement and how it may have hurt enlistment opportunities must be the most common, and the most difficult to answer, I decided to give it a go. You see, just because a charge or group of charges is waiverable, it DOES NOT mean that you will get a waiver. This guide shows the waiver authority, but remember, anyone in the chain can decide not to have your waiver reviewed. Yes, even your Recruiter can decide not to process you.

Many factors beyond the type and number of offenses are used to determine eligibility, and they include, but are not limited to, your education status, ASVAB score, references from employers, community involvement (not court mandated community service), and more. This guide addresses basic enlistment only, and does NOT delve into the additional waivers you may require for a specific Navy job you may be seeking; or, if your crimes involved physical violence, alcohol involved driving, multiple drug related offenses, drug use, domestic violence, or sex related crimes.

Remember, a waiver is only required because the circumstance being waived is disqualifying. Many people do not make it through the conduct waiver process – in my experience, most of those disapproved were a result of the person being disrespectful; they almost seem to think the process to be a waste of time. Also, during the conduct waiver process, many applicants would blame someone else for the charges. They refused to take ownership of their past indiscretions. My best advice; be humble and man/woman-up.

Why are moral waivers completed? The waiver process is a filter to prevent enlistment of persons whose social habits are a threat to unit morale and cohesiveness while allowing those who may have made a couple of prior indiscretions, but still have a good potential to serve.

Some important definitions:

Adjudicated
“The completion of a legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved.” For the purposes of enlistment, if your charges are disposed with ANY condition, it will be considered a guilty finding and will be subject to, if otherwise qualified/required, a waiver by the proper approval authority. Example: a prosecutor tells you that your charges will be dropped if you write a “letter of apology”, or if you pay restitution, the condition requirement of having to write the letter or to pay the restitution is considered an adverse adjudication. This includes charges that were dismissed, pardoned or disposed of in any manner that required you to do something, anything!
Expungement
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.
Probation
Probation is the suspension of a sentence of an individual convicted of an offense. The suspension of sentence will usually always require the individual to abstain from further unlawful activity during the period of probation and may or may not include other conditions imposed by the convening civil authority/court. The term unconditional/unsupervised probation is used to define a period of probation where the individual has no restrictions concerning freedom of movement, no future reporting requirements, no outstanding balance of fines, restitution or community service to be fulfilled, or any other tangible condition that would restrict the individual’s ability to join and serve in the armed forces. Supervised/conditional probation is defined as any imposed condition that would restrict the individual from joining the armed forces due to movement restrictions, reporting requirements, unpaid balances of fines or restitution, or remaining community service requirements to be fulfilled. Persons under unconditional/unsupervised probation are enlistment eligible.
Non-Traffic Offense
Generally, if the maximum confinement under local law is four months or less, it is to be treated as a non-traffic offense.
Misconduct Offense
Generally, if the maximum confinement under local law exceeds four months but does not exceed one year, it should be treated as a misconduct offense.
Major Misconduct Offense
Generally, if the maximum confinement under local law is one year or more, it should be treated as a major misconduct offense.

You may not enlist into the service as an alternative to criminal prosecution, indictment, incarceration, parole, probation, or other punitive sentence. If a judge does reduce your sentence or punishment to join, then you are ineligible for enlistment until the original assigned sentence would have been completed.

All charges, citations, and warnings must be listed in your enlistment paperwork, but it is only those charges and citations that have been adversely adjudicated that will have to be considered when determining if a waiver is required or even necessary. So, let’s get to it, what can be waived and who can waive it.

The waiver authority based on the number of traffic, misdemeanor offenses, and combinations of those charges that you may have committed.

Moral Waiver Chart
Offense Number of Offenses Waiver Authority
Traffic Violations
(Follow link for examples)
5 or more NTAG CO
Non-Traffic Offenses
(Follow link for examples)
Up to 4
5 – 7
8 or more
No waiver is required.
NTAG CO
No waiver authorized.
Misconduct
(Follow link for examples)
1
2 or 4
5 or more
NTAG CO Eligibility Determination
NTAG CO Waiver
No waiver authorized.

Combination Rules for Non-traffic and misconduct (not including major misconduct) offenses.

Combination Rules for Non-Traffic (NT) and Misconduct (M) Offenses
Combination of Offenses Waiver Authority
1 M and 4 to 6 NT
2 M and up to 5 NT
3 M and up to 4 NT
4 M and and ANY NT
Total of NT+M=8 or more
1 Major Misconduct and three or more additional M and/or NT
NTAG CO
NTAG CO
NTAG CO
No waiver Authorized
No waiver Authorized
No waiver Authorized

An offense is 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. A felony charge that is adjudicated as a felony which is amended later to a lesser offense classification shall be considered a felony for enlistment waiver purposes (unless the recruiting command’s legal department determines otherwise).

Even though a probation violation will be charted as a Non-Traffic Offense, all applicants charged with probation violation(s) require an enlistment eligibility determination by Navy Recruiting Command’s legal department.

Note: A criminal/moral waiver that requires consideration by the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command are extremely unlikely to be forwarded for consideration unless you are an otherwise stellar applicant.

Major Misconduct Offenses (Felonies)
Offense Number of Offenses Waiver Authority
Major Misconduct
(Follow link for examples)
1 or 2* CNRC
2 juvenile major misconduct offenses or a combination of 1 adult and 1 juvenile major misconduct.
If you have 2 adult or 3 or more major misconduct offenses. No waiver authorized.
* Cannot have more than 1 Major Misconduct offense adversely adjudicated as an adult.

A combination of 1 major misconduct and 3 or more additional offenses, other than traffic violations, is NOT authorized for a waiver.

The Moral/Criminal Waiver Matrix above is for both active and Reserve, enlisted and officer programs.

To be clear, about 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, if you have a record, you must reveal the record, and a conduct waiver must be granted to authorize enlistment in these cases.

Self admitted crimes and offenses shall be processed in the same manner as adverse adjudications when the crimes or offenses are not revealed in police record checks or on file with civil authorities. Self admitted crimes and offenses shall be classified (charted) and waived at the appropriate level per this manual. However, any voluntarily disclosed, self admitted, or recruiter discovered form of police or criminal involvement by an applicant warrants further investigation and may be grounds for disqualification.

You receive an automatic, permanent disqualification if you have been convicted of rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, incest, carnal knowledge, forcible sodomy, sodomy of a minor, prostitution involving a minor, indecent assault, assault with intent to commit rape, assault with intent to commit sodomy, indecent act with a minor, indecent language with a minor, kidnapping of a minor (by a person not a parent), pornography involving a minor, attempt to commit any of the foregoing, conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing, any other sexual offense, or solicitation to commit any of the foregoing, or if you are required by any state or federal court, statute, or administrative regulation, to register as a sex offender – NO WAIVERS AUTHORIZED.

Applicants with pre-service conduct waivers (drug, alcohol, or criminal) are disqualified for overseas assignment for their first duty station.

Well, this should be just enough information to confuse the crap out of you. I just hope that this information doesn’t stop you from visiting the recruiting station and asking specific questions about your individual circumstance, and provides you with enough insight so you can be as prepared for the visit as you can be.


*** Once in the Navy if you are arrested, you have an obligation to self-report the arrest immediately per instruction. Withholding that information would be a violation of a direct order and could be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).



4,352 Responses to “Moral Waivers for Enlistment”


  1. Alex says:

    Hi, I was arrested at 18 with a felony and misdemeanor, after pretrial intervention the charges were dropped. I am now 23 and want to join the navy. What are my odds for joining?

  2. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Alex,

    Charges handled adversely (probation, paid fine, had to apologize, etc.) via a plea agreement is the same as being found guilty by a jury when it comes to military conduct waivers. So, it depends on what the offenses were, your education level, work history, ASVAB score and other factors.

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