Certain criminal offenses may preclude enlistment in the United States Navy. It's important to note that conviction is not necessarily required. The Navy is more interested in whether or not the person actually committed the offense, rather than whether or not some court was lenient or generous in how they handled/prosecuted the offense.
For the purposes of enlistment in the military, there is no such thing as a "sealed record," or an "expunged record." One is required, by law, to list all incidents where one was arrested or charged, regardless of the final outcome.
Whether or not an offense "counts" or not, depends on whether there was a conviction or any type of adverse adjudication. When it comes to criminal offenses, enlistment qualifications, and waivers, the following definitions apply.
A conviction is the act of finding a person guilty of a crime, offense or other violation of law by a court or competent jurisdiction or other authorized adjudicative authority. This includes fines and forfeiture of bond in lieu of trial.
Adverse Adjudication (Adult or Juvenile)
Adverse adjudication refers to any conviction, finding, decision, sentence, judgment, or disposition other than unconditionally dropped, unconditionally dismissed, or acquitted. Participation in a pretrial intervention program as defined below must be processed in the same manner as an adverse adjudication.
Every state has a program by which offenses are diverted out of the regular criminal process for a probationary period. While the programs vary from state to state, they all require the defendant to meet some requirement (e.g., reporting or non-reporting probation, restitution, or community service), after successful completion of which the charge is disposed of in a way that does not result in a final adjudication of guilt. Charges disposed of in this manner must be processed as an adverse adjudication.
A stet process is a judgment that all further action in a case be stayed. Frequently referred to as a "stet," it is often used by prosecutors to dispose of criminal action without actually having to try a case on its merits. A stet may be considered as equivalent to dropping charges if the prosecutor does not contemplate any further proceedings on the case and the case has not been handled through a pretrial deferment program. A letter from the district attorney is required to verify a stet.
Commonly called "nol pros," nolle prosequi is a formal entry on the record that the prosecutor will not prosecute the case any further. A nol pros may be considered equivalent to dropping charges if the prosecutor does not contemplate any further proceedings on the case and the case has not been handled through a pretrial deferment program. For enlistment purposes, the Navy classifies offenses into four areas:
- Chart A – Minor Traffic Violations: Requires a waiver for six or more violations.
- Chart B – Minor Non-Traffic Violations/Minor Misdemeanors: Requires a waiver for three or more violations.
- Chart C – Non-Minor Misdemeanors: Requires a waiver for one or more violations.
- Chart D – Felonies: Requires a waiver for one or more violations. Felony waivers are extremely rare.