Obtaining a Security Clearance

Have you recently scored your dream job but you’re afraid that you might not pass the background check to gain a security clearance? If you have a criminal past, then this could adversely affect your job outlook. Your background doesn’t even have to contain a felony but could be a misdemeanor that involves a domestic or assault. Even a history of DUI can put the brakes on your future career. Also, if you have filed bankruptcy then you might have problems obtaining a security clearance.

Employers conduct background checks for security clearances for a variety of situations. When you think of security clearances most people believe they are primarily required by government employers and private contractors who have access to information could involve national security. However when the Department of Homeland Security was created many private sector employers started to require clearances.

Here are just a few careers where you might have to undergo and pass to obtain a security clearance:

  • Bankers
  • Janitors
  • Government employees
  • Construction workers
  • Education professionals
  • Law enforcement

DUI and Security Clearance

An arrest or conviction for DUI poses a serious threat to your ability to obtain a security clearance. The Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information, which was published by the Whitehouse, clearly states that alcohol consumption poses a concern when deciding on security clearance eligibility.

In Guideline G you’ll find this, “excessive alcohol consumption often leads to the exercise of questionable judgment or the failure to control impulses and can raise questions about an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness.”  Guideline G is very precise and lists the following conditions that can red flag your ability to qualify for a security clearance,  “alcohol-related incidents away from work, such as driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, disturbing the peace, or other incidents of concerns, regardless of whether the individual is diagnosed as an alcohol abuser or alcohol dependent.”

A Criminal Record and Security Clearance

Maybe in your youth you made the wrong decisions and have a criminal record. Under the Adjudicative Process, the following will take place,  “an examination of a sufficient period of a person’s life to make an affirmative determination that the person is an acceptable security risk.”  Numerous factors during your lifetime are taken into consideration.

With the Adjudicative Process, there are certain guidelines that are outlined and must be followed.

  • Criminal conduct
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Foreign allegations
  • Psychological problems
  • Mishandling of classified information
  • Personal indiscretions and misconduct
  • Financial problems and irresponsibility

As you can see from the list, criminal misconduct is a cause for concern. Guideline J states,  “criminal activity creates doubt about a person’s judgment, reliability, and trustworthiness.”

Criminal Past and Security Concern

Yes, if you have crimes that are revealed during a security clearance check then you’ll have to answer for them. Remember, you must display trustworthiness and a checkered past might not stand up to scrutiny. However, please remember that the big picture is taken into consideration.

If you committed the offense a long time ago during your youth, then that is in your favor. Also, if there were unique circumstances involved in the case then those will be considered. Just because you have a criminal record does not mean that you automatically will face security clearance denial.

Bankruptcy and a Security Clearance

After 2008, many people were forced into declaring bankruptcy because there was no other option. No matter what your circumstances, you might be afraid that declaring bankruptcy will adversely affect your chances of getting a security clearance.

Bankruptcy itself is not enough to cause a denial. However, it does raise a red flag because it shows that perhaps you suffer from a financial problem or irresponsibility. If the bankruptcy was due to abrupt unemployment, a major illness or a business fall then you will probably not be ruled out for a security clearance.

However, if you appear to be frivolous with credit cards and make unnecessary purchases that drive your debt to income ratio too high then you might encounter a problem with obtaining a clearance.

If you filed bankruptcy for any of the following, then you could encounter problems obtaining a security clearance:

  • Irresponsible spending on credit cards or via loans
  • Fraud, embezzlement, theft, or tax evasion pushing to the financial brink
  • Living beyond your means
  • Financial problems that are a direct result of gambling, alcohol, or drug abuse
  • A long history that reveals that you frequently fail to meet financial obligations

If you declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy and abstain from paying off your debts, then you possibly could be viewed in a poorer light then if you make payment arrangements. Offering to pay off your bills a little bit at a time is far more favorable.

If you have past offenses that might hinder you from obtaining a security clearance, then please contact Oberhauser Law to discuss your options.

Attorney Gregory Oberhauser

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Gregory Oberhauser is the ONLY attorney in Massachusetts to be distinguished as an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist by the American Chemical Society!

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