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If someone were charged with a felony in the US (e.g. sexual assault, harassment, or murder) as a juvenile, but they're not convicted (their case or the charges were dropped), can they join the military after they turn 18? If not, then why?

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According to the US Army's web site, which gives an overview of the entry requirements, the minimum age is 17 and it seems that only felony convictions and juvenile offences are a bar to recruitment - however the Army Recruiter should be able to confirm whether or not dropped charges fall in to these categories or exclude a candidate for any other reason.

Section 1 "meeting with a recruiter" section includes this:

Your local recruiter will conduct a prescreening to see if you qualify for enlistment. At the recruiting station, he or she will ask you about your:

  • Education level 

  • Criminal history 

  • Age 

  • Marital/dependency status 

  • Physical condition

And one of the "see if you pre-qualify" quick-quiz questions asks if one's age is between 17 and 34

Section 2, "required documents", includes this:

The U.S. Army makes every attempt to assess the moral quality of potential recruits. To this end, a thorough background check is done on all prospects.

  • It is imperative that you disclose all legal offenses

  • Felony convictions will result in candidates being exclude

  • Drug and domestic violence charges will exclude candidates (Some minor drug offenses may be waived on a case-by-case basis)

  • Juvenile offenses will also exclude you

  • Certain Army jobs requiring higher security clearance may necessitate more thorough investigations

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  • Shorter: A non-conviction does not categorically disqualify you. A "juvenile offense" is a form of conviction. It probably requires explanation, however, and might conceivably limit your access to high security clearance jobs if the folks evaluating the background check for a security clearance think that the circumstances of the non-conviction crime cast enough doubt (even though not beyond a reasonable doubt of conviction) on your trustworthiness.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 3, 2021 at 21:06

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