Civilian Security Clearance & Arrest

Hundreds of thousands of people in Northern Virginia possess a security clearance. Security clearances are issued by many federal government agencies and civilian contractors, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

DoD, which issues more than 80% of all clearances, and most other agencies and contractors, have three levels of security clearance:

  • Confidential
  • Secret
  • Top Secret (as well as Top Secret/SCI)

A “public trust” is not a clearance, but is a national security eligibility determination. Those with a public trust position will not be accessing classified information- but their background will be checked.

An arrest for a state or federal criminal charge will likely impact a security clearance. Those with clearances often have disclosure/notification requirements depending on the level of clearance and the type of work performed. Disclosures are always required in the case of security breaches (e.g., unusual contact from foreign nationals) and may be required in the case of arrests, investigations, financial troubles, mental health issues, and substance abuse.

If a disclosure is required and not given, the clearance may be lost forever. And if a disclosure is not required but is made, it can cause unnecessary problems. If you have a security clearance and are charged with a crime or are being investigated, you must:

  1. Find out your disclosure requirements through company/agency resource or policy manuals (Is there a disclosure requirement? Must you disclose the mere fact of arrest, or can it wait until the end result?) ;
  2. Consult an attorney for assistance with making the actual disclosure (You don’t want to reveal too much or not enough); and
  3. Work with your attorney to obtain the best possible result from the criminal proceeding or investigation.

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