Is it possible for a crime I committed in the military to be expunged?  – Georgia Criminal Law Questions and Answers

A: There is NO deletion of court-martial files, even if you are acquitted in court. Here is a recent case of an individual seeking a court-martial to have his conviction overturned.

The United States Department of the Navy has dishonorably discharged Jerome Randolph, the pro-se complainant, after a court-martial convicted him of sexual assault and forging a statement about that assault. Following this discharge, Mr. Randolph repeatedly petitioned the Board for Correction of Naval Records (Board) for his court-martial conviction to be overturned and for an additional payment and higher discharge status. The board refused him any relief. Ultimately, he filed a lawsuit against the United States government in the US Federal Claims Court, seeking the same damages that he sought from the Board of Directors, as well as damages for defamation. The Court of Appeal concluded that, given his court-martial conviction, the Board had reasonably declined to grant him back pay and improve his dismissal status. The damages court also ruled that it had no authority to overturn his court-martial conviction or to proceed with his defamation claim. Even after broadly interpreting Mr. Randolph’s arguments on appeal, we affirm this.

Randolph v. United States, No. 2017-1477 (Fed. Cir. 13 June 2017). Randolph is also a good reminder of the limited jurisdiction of federal courts to review and change a court-martial conviction.

There is NO deletion period, except for the above corrections to your criminal record.

The only option is to ask the President of the United States for a pardon. Note that the rules are quite strict.

Under the Department’s rules on executive clemency petitions, 28 CFR §§ 1.1 et seq., an applicant must wait a minimum of five years before being eligible to seek a presidential clemency on his or her federal conviction. The waiting period, intended to give the applicant a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate their ability to lead a responsible, productive and law-abiding life, begins on the date of the applicant’s release from custody. Alternatively, if the conviction resulted in a sentence that did not involve any form of detention, including community or domestic detention, the waiting period begins on the date of conviction. In addition, the applicant must have fully served the sentence imposed, including any suspended, suspended, or supervised prison terms, before filing a clemency petition. In addition, the waiting period begins when you are released from custody for your most recent conviction, whether or not it is the crime for which pardon is sought. You can submit a written request for an exemption from this requirement. However, part of the waiting period is waived rarely and only in exceptional cases. To request a waiver, you must complete the Pardon Request Form and submit it along with a cover letter explaining why you think the waiting period should be waived in your case.