Criminal Record & Security Clearance

You have this great job and now it’s time for you to apply for security clearance. You feel you’re a perfect candidate except for the fact that you’ve had some trouble with the law. You’re a good person; you’re past your mistake, but now you’re wondering if it can prevent you from receiving security clearance. Before we address criminal behavior, we want to explain the Adjudicative Process, which according to the U.S. Department of State is “an examination of a sufficient period of a person’s life to make an affirmative determination that the person is an acceptable security risk.”

Understandably, this process involves looking at a number of factors, such as the person’s conduct over a long period of their life, any disciplinary actions taken against them, and any record of criminal behavior. The Adjudicative Process involves 13 Guidelines, including but not limited to:

For the purpose of this post, we are focusing on Guideline J: Criminal Conduct. According to the Department of State, the concern is that “criminal activity creates doubt about a person’s judgement, reliability and trustworthiness.” Guideline J goes on to state that criminal activity calls into question the individual’s overall willingness and ability to comply with laws and regulations.

What could increase a security concern? A serious crime; multiple minor offenses; a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces; admission or accusation of criminal conduct, even if the person was not formally prosecuted; currently being on probation or parole; or, a probation or parole violation. There are conditions that could minimize a security concern. If the crime was committed a long time ago, or under unique circumstances that do not cast doubt on the applicant’s trustworthiness, or if the person was coerced, or if there is evidence that the individual was wrongfully accused or convicted – these can all improve the person’s chances of receiving a security clearance despite their record.

Are you concerned that your criminal record will prevent you from gaining security clearance? Or, has something in your past led to a denial? Either way, contact our security clearance attorneys for assistance getting the results you’re looking for.