Can a Felon Become a Navy SEAL?

Navy SEALs — the American heroes who take on the military’s toughest missions during war times – is one of the United States’ most prestigious groups to be apart.

SEALs receive special treatment from those in society and culturally viewed as real-life superheroes. Becoming a Navy SEAL takes special physical and mental commitment but everyone does not have the privilege of joining the elite groups.

Convicted Felons are technically not allowed to join the military but have options that can utilize if they want to join the Navy’s most special unit?

How To Become A Navy Seal?

There are basic requirements for becoming a Navy SEAL. First, you must enlist into the Navy. If you’re a civilian, you can request a SEALs Challenge Contract, which guarantees you a spot as a candidate. The age requirements sit between 18-28, those with parental approval can enlist at 17. One must be a high school graduate and proficient in the English language.

Once a candidate, you must complete several training challenges; Boot Camp Training, Pre-Training, and Navy Seal Training. Navy SEAL training is known to push students physically and mentally. You will go through the standard physical screening test, which includes a 500-yard swim, push-ups, sit-ups, and a mile and a half timed run.

Here are the recommended standards for each test:

500-yard swim = 8-9 minutes

80-100 push-ups

80-100 sit-ups

1.5-mile run = 9 minutes

After you’ve completed the Navy SEAL Training and boot camp, you get the lucky opportunity of attempting to conquer the three phases of Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL Training. BUD/S training is very rigorous and leaves most candidates injured or quitting in phase one. Phase one puts you through challenges such as oceans swims, drown-proofing, and a 120-hour hell week. After phase one, you will go through diving and aquatic challenges in phase two and round out BUD/S training with shooting and demolition in phase three.

How Can Felons Become Navy Seals?

Becoming a Navy SEAL is hard enough with the physical and mental requirements a candidate must meet. The political requirements make it nearly unlikely for a felon to even join the military, let alone conquer the Navy SEAL BUD/S Training phase.

A preliminary requirement eliminates felons from the equations, which is having a clean criminal record, but there are ways for felons to become a Navy SEAL. All felonies are not treated the same and with proper political assistance, a felon can become a SEAL candidate.

First, a felon must enlist into the Navy and apply for a felony waiver from the Navy Recruiting Command. Approved felony waivers are rare, but they give hope to those with one felony charged as an adult and one as a juvenile. Unfortunately for those with two or more adult felonies or three at any age, they can not apply for a waiver. Here is the list of felonies that require a wavier:


Mail fraud

Intent to defraud or deceive (over $500)


Child abuse


Concealing knowledge of a felony

Conspiring to commit a felony

Possession drugs

Breaking / entering with intent to commit a felony

Criminal libel

Stolen Property $500+



Selling Weapons to minors




Grand larceny

Kidnapping; abduction

Violent offenders are even less likely to be approved. Sex crimes are also deemed for automatic disqualification.


Manslaughter / Murder


Child Pornography

These offenses, both non-violent and violent, also eliminates felons from other civil rights such as voting, traveling abroad, and parental custody. Felons who were previously enlisted must go through the same requirements as non-military felons. Depending on their felony, they have a better chance of receiving support from local politicians which helps with the waiver but it does not make them a sure candidate.

Are There Any Convicted Navy SEALs?

Even in the elite group of Navy SEALs, bad apples are spotted. Those convicted of war crimes are subjected to the same punishments as civilian felons. Soldiers found guilty, depending on the severity of the crime, can lose their rank, be discharged from the military, and receive jail time.

Navy SEAL Chief, Edward Gallagher, is the latest military veteran to have a high-profile War Crime case, thanks to President Trump. While awaiting trial for allegedly murdering an Islamic Detainee in 2007, President Trump demanded Gallagher’s released to a “less restrictive confinement.” Gallagher was acquitted of murder but lost rank for another offense, and papers were drafted to strip him of his Trident pin, which marks him as a SEAL. President Trump intervened and ordered Gallagher’s rank returned. Since 2011, 151 SEALs loss their Tridents.

Gallagher’s case is a prime example of how support from government officials can help unlikely candidates find their way into the armed forces. President Trump’s influence as the commander and chief, helped Gallagher keep his prestige and honors even when Naval officials tried to hold him accountable.

Felons won’t be as lucky as Gallagher to have friends in high places. What they can learn from this situation is how delicate it is to be a Navy SEAL, and at any moment, the honor can be removed. Even with the acquittal, Gallagher’s Naval peers considered him to be a “pirate.” Gallagher has even gone as far as to call out the Navy and some of their officials.

Final Thoughts

Whether a felon or an actual SEAL, each must have a significant moral compass. SEALs are military warriors, but they are a representation of the men and women in our country.

Non-violent or Non-sex crime offenders should be allowed to enlist in the military and pursue a career as a Navy SEAL with little resistant. Those felons should be monitored for an amount of time, judge by their moral compass and commitment to becoming a SEAL.

Felons of violent offenses can still apply for waivers and look for support from government officials if they still want to pursue a career in the military, especially those who were enlisted before.

Discipline, dedication, and determination are what separates the civilians from the honorable SEALs, and those traits can be found in anyone, felon or not.

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