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Security Clearance Holders and the Importance of Disclosing Offenses

Over 5 million Americans hold federal government security clearances. Here in Southern Arizona that includes Border Patrol Agents, almost everyone, civilian or military working on Davis Monthon Air Force Base; nearly everyone of the thousands working at Raytheon (the largest missile factory in the world is right here in Tucson); everyone working at Ft. Huachuca down in Sierra Vista (Signal Corps); most of the prison and jail guards around here; and even many of the contractors who go into secure facilities –even water treatment plants. These clearances can be lost, easily it seems, when employees get arrested or cited for sometimes relatively minor crimes.

Misdemeanor charges can also affect anyone who wants to work in the federal government in the future. In fact, some of the offenses that may not result in revocation will still result in a denial of a clearance for a prospective employee. For young people, misdemeanor offenses can result in exclusion from the military, or at a minimum, exclusion from the most coveted career tracks. Many of the local engineering jobs in Tucson are tied to government contracts and college students who aspire to work in these fields will need to meet the stringent security clearance guidelines. If you are an aspiring federal employee and you have been accused of any crime, it is important to seek legal advice from someone who is familiar with the particular consequences that a criminal conviction may have your prospective federal employment.

For current employees facing possible revocation, security clearance decisions are usually out of the purview of the employee’s chain of command. Even if someone is an excellent employee, that can have little weight when it comes down to whether a clearance should be revoked. Additionally, a DUI or drug charge can affect an employee’s medical clearance and restrict their assignment possibilities.

When faced with a security clearance revocation due to a criminal charge, it can be difficult to get unbiased advice from within your organization. In the case of a DUI, a defense attorney may be able to challenge evidence regarding the validity of blood tests or field sobriety tests. If this evidence is successfully challenged, this could help mitigate the effects that the arrest has on your security clearance or your ability to get one in the future. Regardless of the nature of the charge, anyone charged with a criminal offense faces a variety of decisions. For security clearance holders, it is especially important that your attorney understands the specific consequences that these decisions may have on your ability to retain your security clearance.

One thing we’ve discovered is that immediate disclosure of a ticket or arrest to a superior is really important. Most clearance holders are required to report any arrest, criminal citation, or involvement in any legal action, such as a lawsuit. Security clearances, after all, are all about integrity. A security clearance holder never wants to be suspected of anything less than candor.

A defense attorney may be able to challenge evidence regarding the validity of blood tests or field sobriety tests. If this evidence is successfully challenged, this could positively impact you.