Does Article 15 Affect Your Background Check?

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Wondering if an Article 15 will show up on a background check? You’re not alone. Many service members have faced non-judicial punishments and worry about the impact on their future.

An Article 15, also known as non-judicial punishment, is a disciplinary measure used in the military. It’s a concern whether this mark on your record could hinder your civilian endeavors.

Let’s dive into the specifics of how an Article 15 might affect your background checks and what that means for your career prospects outside the military.

What is an Article 15?

An Article 15, familiarly known as non-judicial punishment, is a disciplinary procedure utilized by the military to address minor offenses outside of the judicial system. It’s a mechanism to maintain order and discipline within the ranks without resorting to the formalities of a court-martial. Your understanding of this process is crucial, as it can have a significant impact on a service member’s military record.

When you’re subjected to an Article 15, it means the commanding officer has determined that there is enough evidence to accuse you of misconduct. The offenses can range from minor infractions like showing up late for duty, to more serious violations such as theft or assault. However, to warrant an Article 15, the offense need not be criminal in nature and may simply breach military decorum or regulations.

Key Aspects of an Article 15:

  • It’s less severe than a court-martial.
  • You can accept or turn down the Article 15 and instead request a court-martial.
  • It’s considered an “on the spot” correction.

Types of Article 15:

  • Summarized: For the least serious offenses.
  • Company grade: Administered by a company commander for moderate offenses.
  • Field grade: Administered by a battalion commander or higher, and is for more serious offenses.
  • Extra duties
  • Reduction in grade
  • Forfeiture of pay
  • Restriction to a certain area
  • A reprimand

The outcomes of an Article 15 are varied and can affect your future both in and out of the service. Whether these repercussions cast a long shadow over your career prospects is contingent upon the severity of the offense and the decisions of your superiors. Understanding these details is pivotal as you contemplate how an Article 15 might surface during a background check.

Understanding Background Checks

When you’re exploring the implications of an Article 15 on your future, it’s crucial to understand how background checks work. Background checks are the process by which your personal, financial, and legal history are reviewed by potential employers or other agencies. Conducted thoroughly, these checks can reveal various elements of your past, including criminal records, credit history, employment verification, and more.

Three main types of background checks exist:

  • Criminal History Checks: These delve into your criminal record to uncover any convictions or arrests, and sometimes include military justice matters such as Article 15s.
  • Credit Checks: Used primarily for financial roles, these reviews disclose your credit score, outstanding debts, and financial responsibility.
  • Employment History Checks: Employers verify your previous job roles, durations, and reasons for leaving to ensure accuracy in your resume.

The depth of a background check can vary based on the employer’s requirements or the job’s sensitivity. If you’re applying for a government position or a job that demands high security clearance, expect a more intrusive check. In such scenarios, military disciplinary actions might be scrutinized more closely.

However, in less sensitive roles, an Article 15 will not typically surface during the criminal history component of a background check. This is especially true if the Article 15 was summarized as these are considered non-judicial and often not part of the public record. Company and field-grade Article 15s, on the other hand, may be documented in your military service record, which could be accessible to certain federal employers.

Keep in mind that each background check is unique, based on the standards of the industry and the company’s policies. The nature of the offense and the specific circumstances surrounding your Article 15 also play a significant role in what’s revealed during these checks. Some organizations may also specifically ask about military service and related disciplinary actions, making it important for you to be prepared and informed.

By understanding the types of background checks and what they entail, you gain insight into how an Article 15 might affect your post-military career opportunities. Stay proactive about knowing your records and the potential footprint of your military conduct on future employment screenings.

What Shows Up on a Background Check?

Understanding what’s included in a background check is crucial for assessing the potential visibility of an Article 15 on your record. Typically, these checks consist of various components, which hiring entities use to scrutinize your history.

Criminal History is often the core of a background check. It includes information such as arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. Considering the non-judicial nature of an Article 15, it’s categorized separately from criminal convictions, which means it won’t appear in the same section as a typical criminal record.

Employment Verifications are another staple of background checks. They confirm your employment history, reasons for leaving previous positions, and job performance. Although an Article 15 doesn’t directly relate to employment verification, patterns of misconduct in the military could be indirectly inferred through comments on your performance or reason for discharge.

Educational Records, which confirm your degrees and certifications, might also be reviewed. An Article 15 wouldn’t show up here, as this section does not typically relate to military discipline unless it impacts educational standing or qualifications achieved during service.

Credit Reports can also be pulled, primarily for positions that require financial reliability. Again, an Article 15 won’t be reflected here unless it has somehow influenced your credit score through related penalties like forfeiture of pay.

Crucially, Military Service Records could be examined, particularly for positions requiring security clearances or if the employer specifies a thorough military background review. Article 15 repercussions could potentially surface in this area, as military disciplinary actions are noted in these records.

The depth of military record scrutiny depends on the job you’re applying for. Jobs with more stringent requirements tend to dig deeper, potentially bringing any military disciplinary actions to light. It’s important to note that not all background checks will access or assess your military service records – it’s typically job-dependent.

Each background check is unique and the specific criteria an employer uses can vary widely. While criminal records and Article 15s occupy different spaces in these investigations, your military conduct may come under scrutiny depending on the level and scope of the background check conducted by the employer.

Do Article 15s Show Up on Background Checks?

When you’re facing a background check, it’s natural to wonder whether an Article 15 will feature in the results. Article 15s are non-judicial punishments, and consequently, they may not appear in traditional criminal history checks. However, this isn’t a standard rule, and there are specific instances when your Article 15 could be visible to potential employers.

The visibility of an Article 15 on a background check depends largely on the level of clearance required by the job. For positions involving security clearances or government contracts, military records, including Article 15s, are often reviewed more thoroughly. Employers conducting these high-level checks may use the Defense Central Index of Investigations, which can potentially include details of any Article 15s.

Moreover, understanding the Department of Defense (DoD) policy can provide insight into what information is disclosed during a background check. Military service records can contain summary records of disciplinary actions, which could include Article 15s, but the extent to which they are disclosed varies.

Here’s what you should keep in mind about background checks and Article 15s:

  • Not all background checks are the same; the depth of a background check varies by employer and job type.
  • Certain jobs, especially those with federal government or military associations, may entail more rigorous scrutiny.
  • Private sector employers typically do not have access to military records unless you provide them.
  • Article 15s could be part of your military service record, which could be flagged during an in-depth background check.

While an Article 15 is a sign of a disciplinary issue within the military, it’s not always visible to civilian employers. Your chance of an Article 15 showing up on a background check increases with the sensitivity of the position you’re applying for. Always be aware of your records, and if in doubt, seek guidance from a legal professional who specializes in military law.

Potential Consequences of an Article 15 on a Background Check

When you’re up against a background check, understanding the potential repercussions of an Article 15 on your record is crucial. Depending on the nature of the job you’re applying for, this form of military discipline may raise red flags for potential employers.

Security-sensitive positions, such as those in government agencies or jobs requiring security clearances, mandate a thorough review of military records. It’s not merely your criminal history that’s under scrutiny here but your full military conduct. An Article 15 indicates noncompliance with military rules, which could be interpreted as a risk factor by employers concerned with integrity and discipline.

In contrast, many civilian occupations do not typically delve into the details of your military service unless you disclose them. Private sector employers may conduct a standard criminal background check, which won’t show an Article 15. However, you might find yourself in a conundrum if the application process requires you to list any military disciplinary actions. Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s important to understand how this disclosure might impact your candidacy.

For roles connected with defense contracting or federal employment, expect a more comprehensive investigation into your past. Here’s how an Article 15 might play out:

  • Trust and reliability concerns: Employers may view an Article 15 as a lapse in judgment.
  • Character assessment: Military discipline can be factored into your overall character evaluation.
  • Eligibility for positions: Some jobs have strict criteria that could disqualify applicants with significant military infractions.

If you’re unsure about the specifics of how an Article 15 might affect your prospects, seeking advice from a legal professional in military law is a wise move. They can help you navigate the possible outcomes and provide guidance on how to present your military history to potential employers. Remember, your goal is to showcase your strengths and how your military experience has prepared you for the civilian workforce.


Navigating the potential impact of an Article 15 on your background check can be complex. You’ll find that the extent of its influence largely depends on the type of job you’re seeking. If you’re aiming for a role that scrutinizes military records, it’s crucial to be prepared. On the flip side, for most civilian jobs, your military service details typically won’t be as closely examined. Remember, it’s always wise to consult with a military law expert to ensure you’re fully informed and ready to address any concerns with potential employers. By doing so, you’ll be better positioned to move forward in your career with confidence.


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