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Expunging a military criminal record – legal information


Michael Decker

Being convicted of criminal offenses during military service will lead to criminal record, which accompanies a person for many years after discharge from service. Expunging a military criminal record is necessary if you need to obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct to emigrate abroad \ work in a variety of professions that require proof of the lack of a criminal past. Our law firm, which deals with military law, provides assistance in filing applications for expunging a criminal record and legal support throughout the process. The following article will explain just how the procedure works and what you need to know about it.

Our attorneys are experts in military law and provide legal assistance and support on issues such as arranging legal status in Israel with the military authorities, legal representation when dealing with the law enforcement authorities and before the military courts, dealing with applications for expunging a military criminal record, etc.

Expunging a military criminal record


During their military service, soldiers are not only subject to the laws of the State of Israel, but also to the military legal system. This system of military law applies to soldiers from enlistment in the IDF until they complete their military service. It also applies when soldiers are on leave or not on duty, and even when they are abroad. Consequently, it is possible to try soldiers in a military court for offenses committed during their service. Conviction for offenses such as desertion, draft evasion, drug-related offenses, weapons offenses, etc., will usually lead to a criminal record.

Many people mistakenly think that this criminal record only applies in relation to the military authorities, but this is not the case. The record remains on file in the Israel Police criminal registry. The existence of such a criminal record prevents an individual from obtaining a Certificate of Good Conduct, in other words proof of the lack of a criminal past. This state of affairs will bar the individual from working in many professions, such as the legal profession, working as an electrician and even gaining a taxi license. It might even prevent a person from entering many countries. It is important to know that if you have been convicted during your military service of an offense that involves establishing a criminal record, it is possible to try and expunge that record. We shall explain how below.


The power to expunge a military criminal record lies solely with the President of the State of Israel.  This derives from the president’s power of pardon that is laid down in the Basic Law: The President, and also includes the power to expunge a criminal record. Filing an application to expunge a criminal record can be done via a representative – by attorney or a relative. Processing of this application could take some time, due to the many such applications filed each year, and also due to the approval procedure, which is handled by a number of different entities.

Before delivering the application for the President to review and decide on, it must first be processed by the Military Advocate General’s Pardons Department as well as the Pardons Department in the Office of the State Attorney, who prepare their legal opinion as to the application. There is a special procedure for providing an expert opinion by the Pardons Department in the Office of the State Attorney. If the application is approved, it then must be signed by the Minister of Justice.

Exculpatory evidence and justifying circumstances

A decision to approve the application depends on the particular circumstances of every case. For this purpose it is necessary to examine the overall criminal past of the applicants. As such, a check will be made to see if there are any additional convictions apart from the conviction for which the application has been filed to expunge the criminal record. Moreover, the amount of time that has elapsed since the date of committing the crime will be examined, as well as the reasons for which it has been submitted.

It thus follows that the arguments presented as part of the application bear considerable weight on the final decision. Accordingly, it is important to ensure that the arguments included in the application are sufficiently strong to justify an affirmative response. It is highly recommended to gain help from an attorney who specializes in military law and who is fully conversant with the procedure and regulations on this issue, as this could be of immense benefit.


A criminal record generally remains in the Israel Police criminal registry for 17 years. This is an extremely long period of time and in the past criticism has been voiced that it is not appropriate to impose such a severe sanction on young soldiers at such an early stage in their life. In 2011, the Military Justice Law, which deals with military offenses and their related methods of penalization, was amended so that for the first time it included the option of reducing the period of a criminal record, so that it would be erased after 5 years.

This amendment was designed to give another chance to soldiers convicted of offenses that are not included among the most severe types of offense, such as desertion, in those cases in which this was a first offense. The amendment also enables an individual to file an application to convert a criminal record for conviction of military offenses to a reduced record that would be erased from the criminal registry after 5 years. Our law office provides assistance to both serving and discharged soldiers to file such applications.


If you have any specific question or need to consult on what needs to be done to expunge a military criminal record, you are more than welcome to contact an attorney from our law office, who specializes in both military and administrative law. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience in providing legal representation for those who have been convicted during their military service and who seek to expunge their criminal record. You can contact us either by phone or email as listed below.

Expunging a military criminal record



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