A criminal conviction, or even just a pending criminal charge, can affect a security clearance in several ways. It can require an inquiry into a current security clearance, cause problems with security clearance renewal, or make it difficult to change clearance levels.
The most important thing to do when charged with a criminal offense when a person has a security clearance is to speak with an attorney about their defenses and to try to select the best possible defense for the criminal case. In every case, the best way to address the security clearance issue is to address the criminal charges in the best possible way.
The issuance of security clearance and the possession of a security clearance is a privilege extended by the government to show that someone is capable of handling classified and sensitive information. It is extremely important that individuals who have a clearance meet the requirements of their clearance level and are trustworthy. While many criminal offenses have nothing to do with trustworthiness or ability to handle sensitive information, the ability to follow through with reporting requirements are important in all criminal cases.
The type of charges that are most worrisome when they involve someone with a security clearance are charges that may indicate that the person is a security risk. This includes charges such as extortion, prostitution, or serious drug charges because they suggest someone could be easily manipulated or blackmailed.
Other charges may show poor judgment and repeated charges may be harmful, but the most serious things to avoid are charges that would indicate a lack of trustworthiness or a reason that someone might be susceptible to bribery or blackmail.
There are two main ways in which a defendant’s security clearance or the requirement for a security clearance may change the way a defense attorney will handle a case. The first way is that it is important to consider the ramifications of a conviction or plea deal to the person’s security clearance. While a guilty plea may allow a defendant to avoid certain fines or penalties, it may seriously harm their clearance status.
It is also important to consider the security clearance from the standpoint of a mitigating factor. It is important to give reasons why the prosecutor should consider that a conviction for the charge may affect that person in a more serious way than other people who are similarly situated. When properly handled, having a security clearance can be a helpful point in negotiation as well.
The most important thing to do when worried about the status of a security clearance is to consult a defense attorney and speak with one’s supervisor or human relations department about the requirements for reporting. The defendant should make sure that they are following all the reporting requirements that exist.
In most cases, a minor criminal conviction by itself will not be a bar to a security clearance, nor would it cause a security clearance to be automatically revoked. Still, there are important reporting requirements to consider. Often, people run into trouble with security clearances by trying to minimize the situation or not following through with their reporting requirements.
If you have a security clearance and are facing criminal charges, reach out to an experienced defense attorney. A lawyer could help you defend your case to the fullest extent possible without unnecessarily harming your employment opportunities.
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