Can You Request a Reduction In Your Probation to Join the Military?

Your ability to join the military is conditional upon many factors, including your medical history, family status, educational attainment and others. Some of these are static and may permanently disqualify you from service. While your legal status is not, it is generally settled that no branch of the military will accept your application while you remain on probation. If you wish to join, you must either wait until you have completed your probation in good standing or tread carefully around the issue of securing a reduction in its term.

After your probation has expired, your ability to join the military may be dependent upon the nature of the crime for which you were convicted. If it was a felony or a serious misdemeanor, it may disqualify you from service for as long as it remains on your criminal record. You’ll need to speak with a qualified lawyer or a recruiter for case-specific information on this rule.

Recruiters’ Roles

The military forbids its recruiters from providing legal advice to potential recruits. It also bars them from acting as intermediaries between said recruits and their probation officers or the judges presiding over their cases. The military enforces this rule on a zero-tolerance basis: Any recruiter found to be helping a recruit reduce the length of his or her probation is subject to termination.

Arguably, the penalties for recruits involved in such a situation are even worse. To protect their own jobs, recruiters are obligated to report such recruit requests to their commanding officers. With few exceptions, recruits who broach the subject of probation reduction with their recruiting officer are permanently disqualified from military service.

Getting Around the Rule

If waiting for your probation to end naturally is not an option, you’ll need to approach the judge presiding over your case. You may do this directly using written correspondence or through a lawyer who is well-versed in military recruiting issues.

There is no guarantee that the judge will grant your request or even hear you out. In order to secure a reduction in your probation, you’ll likely have to submit to a drug screening and provide proof of residence, gainful employment, and other metrics that demonstrate that you’ve “learned your lesson.”

There is a riskier way around the no-reductions rule: At his or her discretion, your judge may cite “good behavior” or some other misleading reason for reducing your probation.

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