Can You Join the Navy With a Misdemeanor?

Navy Criminal or Moral Waivers

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Every now and then you hear about criminal waivers going up the chain of command with the recruiter and someone gets accepted. These instances are rare and tend to only happen when the military needs personnel to fill needed jobs in times or shortages or major conflict. Waivers for misdemeanors or felonies require higher up approval and extra work by the recruiter and are handled strictly on a case by case basis. 

Misdemeanor Waivers

Even one violation for "Non-Minor Misdemeanors" requires a waiver. Waivers for up to three violations can be approved by the Commander of the Navy Recruiting Division. Waivers for more than three violations require approval of HQ, Navy Recruiting Command.

The following offenses are considered to be Non-Minor Misdemeanors but not limited to below:

Accessory before or after the fact of a misdemeanor.

Criminal trespass


Assault/Assault and battery

Cruelty to animals

Wrongful appropriation of motor vehicle; joyriding.

Behind the wheel (regardless of blood alcohol content level)

Driving while drugged or intoxicated

Negligent homicide


Failure to stop and render aid after accident


Child neglect


Petty larceny (value $500 or less)

Conspiring to commit misdemeanor

Indecent exposure

Possession Drugs

Contributing to delinquency of minor

Juvenile Delinquency involving criminal misconduct

Providing false information to police/authorities

Criminal mischief.

Leaving scene of accident (hit and run)

Reckless driving

Possession paraphernalia

Unlawful carrying of firearms

Sex crime related charges

Wrongful use of chemical substances

Unlawful entry


Willfully discharging firearm so as to endanger life; shooting in public place

Use of telephone to abuse, annoy, harass, threaten, or torment another

Stolen property, knowingly receiving (value $500 or less).

In determining the classification of an offense (traffic, Misdemeanor, or felony), refer to the court documents to determine how the state adjudicated the offense.

What Determines a Misdemeanor?

The above list is intended as a guide. Offenses of comparable seriousness should be treated as non-minor misdemeanors. In doubtful cases, the following rule should be applied: If the maximum confinement under local law exceeds 4 months but does not exceed one year, the offense should be treated as a non-minor misdemeanor.

The motor vehicle offenses of taking or withholding a motor vehicle without authority and with intent to temporarily deprive the owner of his or her property. These are not offenses where the offender intended permanently to deprive the owner of the motor vehicle, or steal. Offenses of the latter nature are included in grand larceny or embezzlement involving a value of over $500, listed in Chart D, Felonies.

Any vehicle offense may be treated as a lesser offense if offense did not involve drugs, alcohol, and reckless endangerment, speeding in excess of 15 miles over the posted speed limit, bodily harm to any person (including the driver) or property damage in excess of $500.00.

Felony Waivers

Any violation considered a felony requires waiver approval from HQ Navy Recruiting Command to enlist. Felony waivers, even juvenile felony waivers, are rarely approved, but they do occur on a case by case basis. However, if the offense included any type of violence, chances are less likely.

Exception: A single felony, committed before the age of 15, may be waived by the Recruiting Division Commander, as long as the violation did not involve alcohol, drugs, weapons, sex crimes, or physical violence.

The following are many (not all) of the crimes that will require waiver or make a candidate or recruit ineligible for waiver or military service:

Accessory to a crime

Car jacking

Mail fraud / destruction

Aggravated assault

Intent to defraud or deceive (over $500)

Manslaughter / Murder


Child abuse


Assault / Attempt to commit a felony

Concealing knowledge of a felony

Rape, Riot, Robbery

Bomb threat

Conspiring to commit a felony

Possession drugs

Breaking / entering with intent to commit a felony

Criminal libel

Stolen Property $500+



Selling Weapons to minors




Carnal knowledge of female under 16

Grand larceny

Kidnapping; abduction

What Determines a Felony?

The above list is intended as a guide. Offenses of comparable seriousness should be treated as felonies. In doubtful cases, the following rule should be applied: if the maximum confinement under local law exceeds one year, the offense should be treated as a felony. An offense, which is classified as a felony by the state in which it was adjudicated, is considered a felony for the purpose of enlistment eligibility determination.

If the recruiting command is considering a waiver, the CO or XO must personally interview the applicant, verify that he or she meets all of the criteria set forth above and sign the waiver document.

CNRC Code 017 must be contacted in all cases involving possession and/or use of a controlled substance. Drug offenses will be charted in accordance with state guidance and final adjudication if applicable.

Multiple Charges for Single Incident

Several violations that are relative in nature and occurring at the same time and place while at a single location are considered a single transgression in the eyes of military recruiting.


a. Breaking into three vehicles at a shopping center is considered to be three separate violations and is not considered a single transgression.

b. Possession of Marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a single transgression.

c. A minor pulled over for speeding after attempting to elude police is found to have alcohol in his possession of alcohol and assaults a police officer during the stop, would have four separate charges. This is not considered a single transgression.