Nobody has a right to serve in the United States Air Force. Federal law and Department of Defense directives give the military services significant leeway in determining who they want to accept for enlistment or commission. An applicant's criminal and "moral" history plays a large role on whether or not they are eligible to join.
Applicants with two or more convictions or adverse adjudications in the last 3 years, or three or more convictions or adverse adjudications in a lifetime, from category 4 require an approved waiver of morals disqualification.
Applicants with six or more convictions or adverse adjudications in any 365-day period in the last 3 years from category 5 require an approved waiver of morals disqualification.
AFRS Instruction 36-2001, Air Force Recruiting, includes detailed instructions about defining convictions and adverse adjudications
In evaluating an arrest record, information indicating acquittal, dropped charges, expunged record, case dismissal, or that the individual was the subject of a "nolle prosequi," does not negate the significance of the underlying conduct. Therefore, to protect the interest of the Air Force, base eligibility determinations on available information concerning a person's conduct and actions rather than the legal outcome of a criminal proceeding:
A conviction is the act of finding a person guilty of a crime, offense, or other violation of the law by a court, judge, or other authorized adjudication authority and includes fines and forfeiture of bond in lieu of trial.
An adverse adjudication (adult or juvenile) is a finding, decision, sentence, or judgment, other than unconditionally dropped, dismissed, or acquitted. When the adjudicating authority places a condition or restraint that leads to dismissal, dropped charges, or acquittal, the adjudication is considered adverse:
An adjudicating authority is an official of a Federal, state, county, or local government body empowered to make findings or determinations concerning alleged criminal (adult or juvenile) offenses and establishes responsibility for commission of the offense. Responsibility for commission of the offense is established by a conviction or when action tantamount to a finding of guilty is directed by the official (e.g., entry into a diversionary program, probation, or revocation of probation). Adjudicating authorities include:
- Hearing officials.
- Military commanders (Article 15 action or suspension of dependent privileges or similar actions).
- Probation officers.
- Parole officers or boards.
A member is not eligible to begin enlistment processing for 3 months following termination of parole, probation, suspended sentence, or any period of confinement for a conviction. EXCEPTION: Suspended sentences for minor traffic offenses and completion of community service.
These factors may mitigate disqualifying information. Consider them in the waiver process:
- Immaturity attributable to the age of the individual at the time of the offense.
- Circumstances surrounding the offense.
- Isolated nature of the conduct.
- Incident occurred in one's youth with no subsequent criminal conduct.
- Temporary conditions contributed to the conduct, (such as parents' divorce, serious illness, or death in immediate family, etc.) with no subsequent criminal conduct.