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Waiver Charts for Criminal and Conduct Offenses

Moral Waivers for Enlistment

Updated: September 24, 2017

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 NRD Commanding Officer
Non-Traffic Offenses
(Follow link for examples)
Up to 4
5 – 7
8 or more
No waiver is required.
NRD Commanding Officer
No waiver authorized.
Misconduct
(Follow link for examples)
1
2 or 4
5 or more
NRD Commanding Officer Eligibility Determination
NRD Commanding Officer 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 4 NT
3 M and up to 3 NT
3 M and 4 or more NT
Total of NT+M=8 or more
1 Major Misconduct and three or more additional M or NT
NRD Commanding Officer
NRD Commanding Officer
NRD Commanding Officer
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).

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)




4,674 Responses to “Moral Waivers for Enlistment”


  1. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dashawn,

    Bringing up your police and court record is not an option. Failing to do so would be fraudulent as you sign papers that explicitly ask you about it. Also, do not make the same mistake a few have by not bringing it up because you or your local authorities could not find it during their cursory looks. I assure you, if someone has written it down somewhere, there is a record of it, and the thorough investigations that are done today, they will find it.

  2. DASHAWN [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    How long will it take to get a waiver for that?

  3. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dashawn,

    Once you pass the ASVAB and you are one of the ten percent Tier II education applicants allowed to join, the Conduct waiver should be completed on the same day you take your physical at MEPS.

    To add, if your assault charge is domestic violence related, there are additional steps that must be taken to ensure eligibility, but because it occurred as a juvinile, you should ultimately be fine.

  4. DASHAWN [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    how do I even get the waiver? where do I start? where do I get information?

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dashawn,

    All processing is completed through your recruiter. Currently, due to your ASVAB score, you are not minimally qualified to move forward.

  6. DASHAWN [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Will they let me take the asvab over at the office?

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dashawn,

    That is up to your recruiter. I recommend that you have this discussion with him. If the branch of service you are currently applying does not let you proceed, I recommend trying another branch. The Army has the lion’s share of Tier II openings, so they would be your best shot (all branches combined can only have a maximum of 10 percent tier II; most of that percentage is owned by the Army — I think the Navy is currently held to 3.5 percent? Something like that).

  8. Blaine [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Is the U.S Navy currently accepting moral waivers?

  9. Student Medic says:

    If you committed 1 crime but received 2 felony charges for it would it count as 2 major misconducts or would they be stacked and count as 1 major misconduct?

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Student Medic,

    For you to get two separate felony charges, you committed two separate acts. The fact that they both occurred during a single “crime” is irrelevant. For them to be grouped, they would have to have been draw from a single conscious action — that is very rare. For instance, if one is charged with both burglary and theft; both cannot be grouped because they are separate actions.

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Blaine,

    Yes, the Navy will consider conduct waivers.

  12. Student Medic says:

    Thanks for your reply. My two felony charges are involuntary manslaughter and 2nd degree assault stemming from a car wreck I caused. One charge was for the person that was killed and the other charge was for the person that was injured. This was almost 20 years ago. I also have a misdemeanor stealing charge from about 6 months before the wreck. I’ve had no other criminal conduct since and have been working to prove that I’m an honest, upstanding citizen.

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Student Medic,

    CNRC legal would have to make the determination. If you can find a recruiter willing to forward the police and court records for review, it might be possible to group them. I assume you are too old for the active duty Navy (you must have shipped to boot-camp prior to your 35th birthday for active duty), but the other services may have a higher age limit — it would be their legal department that would have to make the determination.

  14. Gregory says:

    I have a re4 code. I want to reenlist. Is there anyway I can? I miss being in the navy. I have a general discharge under honorable conditions. Who can I talk to?

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Gregory,

    There is no waiver authorized for anyone discharged from the Navy with a reenlistment code of RE-4.

  16. Gregory says:

    So I can’t reenlist at all? I know people people who have done it thoug.

  17. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Gregory,

    Correct, you are not authorized to reenlist due to the RE-4 discharge code. The Navy will not consider a waiver for it UNLESS the RE-4 discharge was given due to homosexuality. It explains the policy on the page I linked to; that information is taken directly from current guidance. It has been this way for nearly 30 years, so you may want to track down those people and ask them how.

  18. Student Medic says:

    Thank you, sir. What you’re doing here is appreciated.

  19. Jennifer [Lastr name redacted for privacy] says:

    Just out of curiosity, if you happen to have a recruiter that doesn’t like you and is not trying to put you through what do you do? If they decide not to put forward paperwork for a waiver is there anything you can do or does it just end there with that recruiter?

  20. Dylan [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I spoke to someone over the phone who asked me basic questions and once the criminal history came the woman said I was immediately disqualified from joining the navy no matter the circumstances of a felony charge. I’ve heard a lot about morals waivers and wonder if it’s something I should pursue or if I should just go by what the person over the phone with the navy said.

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jennifer,

    A recruiter is under no obligation to process disqualified applicants. You can always try another recruiter.

  22. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dylan,

    It depends on the charge itself and if you have additional charges. What is your criminal history? What have you been arrested for — all arrests, both juvenile and adult.

  23. Glenn says:

    NCCM:

    I’m interested in enlisting if at all possible and would appreciate your take on my situation.

    I’m currently 36 y/o. About 15 years ago I was convicted of one count of burglary but was originally charged with two counts of robbery as well in that same case. Me and three other guys broke into a drug dealer’s apartment to clear it out believing they weren’t home, but they actually were home, and one of my “friends” pulled a gun (I did not personally have a gun or threaten anybody), while I and one of my other friends fled upon realizing the apartment was occupied. I plead guilty to the burglary, and the two robbery charges were dropped (there was two counts because there were two people in the apartment).

    My main question is whether there is at least a possibility I could convince the legal department to group the charges. The elements of burglary are (1) unlawfully entering into or remaining in a building (2) with the intent to commit a crime therein. Since the intent to commit some other crime within a building is a necessary element of burglary, could it even possibly be argued that the charges constituted one continuous act in a common scheme? Or is there a hard rule about burglaries that they cannot be grouped with the offense that the burglary was committed in furtherance of? The reason this is important to my case is that I also have two simple marijuana possession charges (personal use only – nothing to do with manufacture, delivery, etc.) from approximately 20 years ago, so if the burglary-related charges can be grouped, I would be at the absolute maximum number of charges allowable for a CNRC waiver, but if they can’t be grouped, it looks like I would be SOL.

    I’m not sure that this would make any difference, but part of the reasoning behind the plea deal is that I plead guilty to the part of the crime that I did participate in (the burglary), and the State dismissed the part that I did not participate in (the robbery). The fact that I did not personally participate in the robbery aspect is also clearly reflected in the police reports (i.e. witness statements, etc.) and that I did not receive any weapons-related charges like my co-defendant who had the gun did. Would it be possible to argue that the dismissed robbery charges should not be counted in waiver consideration because I did not actually commit them?

    Qualification-wise, I have an associate degree (graduated with a 3.95 cumulative GPA) in paralegal studies and have been employed as a full-time litigation paralegal (criminal and civil) for over five years now. I tried enlisting back in early 2015, but the Navy was not granting major misconduct waivers at all at that time. I took the AFQT and scored an 87 on the spot – no studying or preparation whatsoever. I am also in good physical condition. I am also a notary public in my state.

    I realize the circumstances of my case will make a waiver application a tough sell assuming the charges can be grouped, but at any rate, thank you in advance for any guidance you are able to offer.

  24. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Glenn,

    The maximum age for active duty Navy enlistment is 34 (you have to be in boot-camp before your 35th birthday). For the Reserve, the maximum age is 39.

    I think legal will require that each charge be counted as separate offenses because the changes were as a result of a plea agreement, and not an amendment of the charges absent a plea (I count one burglary and two robbery — three Major Misconducts). The only way to know is to have all the records, arrest report and court records, submitted for review.

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