Does The Marine Corps Accept Felons?

For movie lovers, there is a good chance you have seen a protagonist come before a judge. He is often given the choice between jail and enlisting in the military.

This scenario suggests that criminal behavior is no barrier to a military career. The reality is a little more complex. This kind of judgment is no longer allowed, if it ever was before.

does the marine corps accept felons

Does the marine corps accept felons? This is a valid query when you also consider how aggressive military recruiters seem to be. These days they frequent high schools and colleges looking to sign up naive teens.

But are felons a suitable recruitment choice? Before we answer this, let’s look at what the marine corps is about and why you should consider joining.

What Is The Marine Corps?

does the marine corps accept felon

The Marine Corps is one of six branches of the U.S. Military. It is an offensive force trained in maneuver warfare and amphibious operations. They are mostly deployed abroad.

Members of the Marine Corps can be found on warships and the ground. There is currently over 194,000 active Marine Corps personnel with another over 38,500 in reserves.

Just as with the other branches of the military, there are recruitment targets to be met. This effort can often be the saving grace of felons looking to sign up.

However, even as desperately as recruits may be needed, there are standards to be upheld.

The Marine Corps is ideal for those looking for a challenge. Their basic training is the toughest and longest of all the services. Graduating from here means you are truly amongst the best.

The majority of the jobs involve combat. Given the dangers involved, it is best suited to those that strongly believe in to serve and protect.

Remember that as an offensive force, Marines are often the first through the door. This sadly also means the Marine Corps suffers the highest rate of fatalities.

On a more practical level, military personnel get good salaries and great benefits. There is free healthcare coverage, military housing or housing allowances, and educational benefits. There are also good retirement plans and affordable life insurance options.

So how does a felon get in on this? And are they subject to background checks?

Does The Marine Corps Perform Background Checks?

does marine corps accept felon

The answer here is yes. Military recruiters will conduct a thorough investigation into candidates’ backgrounds. Criminal history is particularly vital for several reasons.

Firstly, bringing a recruit with criminal leanings may cause unit cohesiveness and morale to suffer. Secondly, there is the young age of most recruits. Parents would feel betrayed to learn their impressionable kids are being thrown in with criminals.

Finally, those that commit certain crimes are more likely to become a later discipline problem.

To avoid any of these concerns, recruiters will delve into recruits’ backgrounds from the start. This investigation will include any records that have been sealed or expunged.

It is also not restricted to just cases of felonies. You will also need to reveal any juvenile charges, records of arrest, and traffic offenses. Any pending or dismissed charges should also be detailed.

Therefore, recruits must divulge all criminal history details. The military has easy access to all criminal databases and will make a full check.

Keep in mind that all this falls under federal law. Lying about criminal history could result in prosecution in a civilian or military court.

So does revealing a criminal past disqualify a felon from joining the marine corps?

Does The Marine Corps Recruit Felons?

The Marine Corps has been known to recruit felons, but not all. Certain offenses cannot be waived. These include:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Sexual violence
  • Breaking and entering
  • Kidnapping
  • Drug trafficking
  • Credit card fraud
  • Two or more drunk driving incidents
  • Ten or more minor traffic offenses
  • Six or more serious traffic offenses
  • One or more felony offenses

Those on probation or parole are also not eligible to join the Marine Corps. Neither are those still serving a penalty of community service.  Also, different offenses may require a waiver from different levels of authority.

Waivers can sometimes be granted even in some of the cases indicated above. It is all about how well you convince the recruiter. And how those tasked with reviewing your appeal consider this appeal.

Those that suffer drug or alcohol addiction issues should not sign up. Those that do manage to join may later be discharged. This failure to disclose can have serious ramifications.

If you still want to sign up and are disqualified based on criminal past, consider a moral waiver. This is the only way to appeal. Especially when you are deemed unworthy to join due to a lack of moral standards.

These are considered on a case-to-case basis. So your success will largely depend on how well you can prove you have been rehabilitated.

Let’s look at how you can go about this effectively.

Overcoming a Disqualifying Felony

does marine corps accept felon guide

The first step has to be in getting the recruiter on your side. This is the person at the frontline responsible for bringing you in. If he is not convinced you are a good candidate, your chances plummet.

If necessary, consider visiting different recruitment centers to find someone willing to give you a chance. They will be the ones to guide you through the process and do a follow-up. they will also be the ones to help with processing a moral waiver.

Next, find a way to prove you have turned your life around. Getting strong references is ideal. Seek for upstanding people in the community.

Those that work in occupations like law enforcement, the military, and clergy may be helpful. Let them write good letters of recommendation attesting to your character.

Pursuing some education and maintaining a steady work record can also help. Performing some charity work can also give the impression of a good work-life balance. It also indicates a strong sense of responsibility and community.

Timing it right can also help. From time to time the military urgently needs new recruits. Overseas wars and other military campaigns often call for an infusion of new blood. The military will often relax their standards at this time to fill the quota.


Military personnel enjoy great benefits. Many apply to them and their families. The Marine Corps is a career that allows people to make a good living while serving their country.

However, given the level of danger, it should be a call of duty that draws you in.

Some felons do have the ambition to make a success of themselves in the military. Their reasons for joining can often be noble. But their past behavior may prove a hindrance.

Thankfully, for those that can prove themselves the ideal soldier, waivers are a viable way in. The military often has a strong need for recruits and will relax their rules to secure them.

Keep in mind that not all offenses may be considered. And putting in for a waiver does not necessarily guarantee approval.

But if you are determined, there is no harm in trying. Be sure to given full and honest details of your criminal history. Also, take the advice of your recruiter in stride as they are insiders aware of your odds.

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