Joining the U.S. military may be a tradition in your New Jersey family or a goal of your teenager. Having the opportunity to serve the country and perhaps earn the ability to pay for a college education could be alluring to both you and your teen. The problem is that seemingly harmless teenage transgressions such as shoplifting could cause problems during the enlistment process.

Shoplifting seems to be a common transgression of many New Jersey teens. Peer pressure often plays a part in this type of crime, and your teen could simply get caught up in trying to fit in with his or her friends. The problem is that unless the charges are dismissed without any conditions from prosecutors, or your teen is acquitted in court, even the arrest could prove problematic when your teen attempts to enlist in the military.

Many people believe that if a record is expunged or sealed that it cannot be considered or discovered, but when it comes to the military, that is often not the case. If you teen received an adverse adjudication or a conviction for shoplifting, the military can consider it when conducting a background check and considering whether to allow your teen to join the service. Because of this, you may want to consider challenging the charges.

It may seem like “overkill” to challenge a shoplifting charge, but considering your teenager’s goals of becoming part of the U.S. Armed Forces, making the extra effort could keep his or her options open for the future. Enlisting the aid of a criminal defense attorney who understands the situation and your goals could increase the chances of achieving the best outcome possible.

Source:, “US Military Enlistment Standards How Criminal History Affects Enlistment”, Rod Powers, Accessed on Dec. 10, 2017