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Can You Join the Army Special Forces with a Criminal Record?

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With very few exceptions, you will not be able to join any branch of the military with a criminal record, including the Army Special Forces. Department of Defense regulations strictly prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a felony from joining the military. Additionally, anyone convicted of a family violence crime, whether that crime is a misdemeanor or felony, cannot have access to firearms and is therefore unable to fulfill the basic requirements of military service. Waivers are available for some types of crimes, including misdemeanors involving drugs and alcohol, but you must be completely honest during the recruitment process to be considered.

Pardons and Expungements

The only exceptions to the waiver requirement are for crimes that have been completely pardoned or expunged from your record. These procedures will reinstate your individual rights, including the right to carry a firearm. However, not all rights lost as a result of a domestic violence conviction can be completely restored. According to 18 USC 921(a)(33), domestic violence cases may be expunged without fully restoring a person's right to bear arms. If that happens, the crime may still prohibit you from joining the special forces.


Based in central Georgia, Louise Bennett has been writing professionally since 1999. Her business, financial and career articles have appeared in hundreds of print and online publications. She received a bachelor’s degree from Columbus State University. An avid reader, Bennett is currently working on her first novel.

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