Every year, thousands of brave men and women make the decision to enlist in our nation’s armed forces. Whether they choose the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserves, or the National Guard, they all dedicate their lives and careers to serving and defending their country. Every branch of our Armed Services holds its men and women to the highest standards of honor, duty, and integrity.
As a result of the military holding its members to such a high standard, the military severely looks down upon service members or civilians contemplating military service are facing criminal charges. For the average civilian, the primary concern with a criminal case is knowing how much jail time they’re facing as well as how high the court fines will be. For service members, the stakes are significantly higher. Civilians seeking to serve our country may even have their application denied by the military because of a criminal conviction.
For military service members, a criminal conviction may result in:
- Denial or revocation of security clearance
- Loss of base privileges
- Placed on restricted duties
- Locked out of certain career paths
- Denied promotions
- Loss of military benefits
- Dishonorable discharge from military
Obviously, each branch of the Armed Forces has their own standards and regulations for criminal convictions, but the general theme among the branches is whether or not the applicant actually committed the offense, not whether or not an actual conviction resulted.
Also note that as far as the military is concerned, there is no such thing as an expunged record. So even if you had a charge expunged off of your criminal record, it may still count against you, even if the underlying charge was dismissed. The trick with a criminal case is specifically how the case was resolved.
For military purposes, outcomes of cases fall into one of four categories:
- This is when a person pleads guilty to a crime, or if they are found guilty at trial by a court of law. A conviction can be considered when assessing fitness to serve.
- Adverse Adjudication.Any conviction, finding, decision, sentence, judgment, or disposition other than unconditionally dropped, unconditionally dismissed, or acquitted. Participation in a pretrial intervention programs will also be treated in the same manner as an adverse adjudication.
- Deferred Prosecution Programs.In a previous blog entry, I had talked about North Carolina’s deferred prosecution program. Where a defendant has to meet some requirement (e.g. restitution or community service), after successful completion of which the charge is dismissed by the state. While great for civilians, THE MILITARY DOES NOT CONSIDER THIS TO BE AN UNCONDITIONAL DISMISSAL. A deferral program will be considered the same as an adverse adjudication.
- Unconditional dismissal. This is when you are completely acquitted of a charge. An unconditional dismissal occurs when a prosecutor dismisses the charges against you without any strings attached, or if you are found not guilty at trial. Charges subject to unconditional dismissal will not be considered when it comes to fitness to serve.
Since the stakes are significantly higher for service members facing criminal charges in North Carolina, accused military service members deserve outstanding and aggressive defense from highly experienced legal professionals. If you are a service member facing misdemeanor or felony charges, you should immediately contact the attorneys at Guirguis Law, PA. We assist members of every branch of the U.S. military and tirelessly fight to achieve legal outcomes that result in the fewest possible penalties for the men and women who serve our country.
Call Guirguis Law, PA at 919-832-0500 today to schedule your free consultation. Also note that we do offer military discounts for active duty service members facing criminal charges.