Appropriateness of Criminal Conduct and Security Clearances


The “Criminal Conduct” criterion in the Decision Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information applies to security clearance applicants who have been arrested, charged or convicted of a single serious crime or multiple offenses minor. Other people who have intentionally provided false information on their authorization application forms, who have been involved in illicit drugs, or who have been involved in previously unreported crimes may also be affected.

Over the years Criminal conduct has always been one of the 4 most common reasons for security clearance denials.


The Arbitration Guidelines state that “criminal activity creates doubt as to a person’s judgment, reliability and reliability. By its very nature, it challenges a person’s ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules and regulations. Because of the high rate of recidivism in adults, this problem is perhaps one of the best predictors of future compliance with the rules for handling classified information.


Criminal offenses are divided into three categories: offenses, misdemeanors and crimes. For security clearance purposes, an offense is a felony for which the maximum possible penalty is a fine; a misdemeanor is a felony for which the maximum possible penalty is imprisonment for up to 1 year; and a felony is a felony for which the maximum possible penalty is incarceration for more than one year.

The “Questionnaire for National Security Posts” (Standard Form 86 – SF86) asks if an applicant has ever been charged with a felony or an offense involving alcohol, drugs, firearms or explosives. . It also asks if an applicant: 1) has been arrested within the past 7 years (10 years since Top secret authorization), 2) has been the subject of a court martial or other military disciplinary proceeding, or 3) is currently pending legal proceedings for a criminal charge or offense.

The distinction between “arrested” and “charged” can be important for anyone arrested more than 7 or 10 years ago for a felony or any offense involving alcohol, drugs, firearms or explosives, but who is not formally charged with any of these offenses. Plaintiffs often confuse the charge or offense listed on the police report as a charge that should be recorded on the SF86. Since a charge can be amended or dropped between the time of arrest and the accused’s initial appearance in court, the best definition of a “charge” for the purposes of the SF86 is any charge of criminal conduct as it stands. is initially presented to the court.

For the purposes of the SF86, an arrest is any situation in which an law enforcement the officer restricts a person’s liberty and then takes them into custody or releases them on their promise to appear in court (i.e. issues a summons). According to this definition, a traffic violation giving rise to a citation is technically an arrest; however, minor traffic citations resulting in a fine of $ 300 or less may be omitted from SF86, unless they relate to drugs or alcohol.

There are certain circumstances in which a person can be taken into custody, but not technically arrested. This usually happens when a person is initially arrested for being drunk in public, placed in a prison cell until sober, and then released without any conditions or further action. In their report, the police record this as detention not corresponding to arrest (or similar wording). It is strongly recommended that such incidents be disclosed in the appropriate comments section of SF86.

In SF86, there is an exception that allows information to be withheld on certain drug convictions. This exception only applies to drug convictions and expungement orders in federal court. Therefore, leave applicants should list all applicable dismissed charges and convictions, even if the record has been sealed, expunged, or otherwise removed from a state or local court record.


The Obligations Amendment (50 USC 435b, section 3002), which came into effect in January 2008, prohibits all federal agencies from granting or renewing eligibility for access to sensitive compartmentalized information, Special Access Programs, and restricted data for anyone who has been: 1) convicted, convicted and imprisoned for a period of more than 1 year for any crime or 2) dismissed / discharged from the Armed Forces in dishonorable conditions. In practice, due to the inability to always predict future access to restricted data, these bond modification restrictions can be applied to arbitration of all security clearance levels. In many organizations, senior arbitrators have the power to waive these restrictions on changing obligations. Where an arbitrator would have reached a favorable decision without the disqualification of a bond amendment, the arbitrator may grant a waiver of merit if he deems it appropriate.


Willful and willful misrepresentation in the context of a security clearance request is a crime. Normally, this offense is considered under the “personal conduct” test of the Arbitration Guidelines, which specifically addresses this issue. However, adjudicators can cite both personal and criminal conduct for this single indictable offense. Likewise, an arbitrator may cite criminal conduct in addition to the consumption of alcohol, drugs or sexual behavior when there has been a single felony or several misdemeanors of which at least one involved alcohol, drugs. or sexual behavior.

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