Are you applying for a job or position that requires a security clearance? Have you been charged with a crime or convicted of a crime and are worried about losing a security clearance? Have you received a statement of reasons or letter of intent regarding your clearance? We can help you with these questions.
Applying for a Security Clearance
If you are accepting a position that requires a security clearance, you will have to submit an application for a security clearance. A security clearance can be required for jobs with U.S. government and federal agencies, civilian military or DoD positions, government contractors, etc. There are several different type of applications depending on the position which you are applying for: Standard Form (SF) 85 (low or moderate risk public trust position), SF-85P (moderate risk public trust position), and the SF-86 (high risk public trust position). Sometimes applications can be completed online using the e-QIP system from the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Applicants are expected to be completely honest and truthful throughout the application process and that begins with the SF-86. In fact, knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact, i.e. lying, on this form is a felony crime punishable by fines and up to five (5) years in prison.
If you need assistance with completing your application, please contact Carmichael Ellis & Brock. Many applicants have questions about whether they must or should disclose a particular fact or occurrence. Sometimes it helps to discuss these issues with a lawyer, especially if the fact to be disclosed involves another legal right, such as confidentiality or other contractual obligations. Many common issues involving prior drug use or old misdemeanor convictions can include context to minimize their impact on your eligibility. The application is the government's first look at you so it is important to make a good first impression. We are here and ready to assist you.
Is granting or continuing the eligibility of a security clearance clearly consistent with the interests of national security?
This is the ultimate inquiry. After the application is submitted, the background investigation begins to determine your eligibility for a security clearance. You may also have periodic security clearance reviews, which function largely in the same way. And there are also investigations into specific instances of conduct that are relevant to your security clearance. Typically, NBIB conducts the majority of background investigations, but agencies such as the DoD, CIA, or FBI may conduct their own background investigations. The higher the risk of the position, the more in-depth the background investigation may be. High risk public trust positions can request information going back ten (10) years or more and may even require a polygraph examination. Background investigators will look into many aspects of your life to make a determination of your suitability for a security clearance and will consider the following factors:
- Allegiance to the United States
- Foreign Influence
- Foreign Preference
- Personal Conduct
- Financial Considerations
- Alcohol Consumption
- Drug Involvement
- Psychological Conditions
- Criminal Conduct
- Handling Protected Information
- Outside Activities
- Use of Information Technology Systems
At every step, applicants are expected to provide “full, frank, and truth to relevant and material questions.” Applicants are also required to provide all relevant and material information, or authorize others to provide such information. Honesty and candor are large parts of the entire process when the government is assessing your eligibility for a clearance. If you have made any errors or omissions in the application process, it is always a good idea to proactively correct those mistakes, no matter how much time has passed. That you voluntarily provide this information will be credited in your favor and will avoid the appearance of dishonesty if discovered by the government. Carmichael Ellis & Brock can assist you with these types of disclosures in ways to minimize their negative impact on your eligibility.
Statement of Reasons
If you have been charged with a crime, or committed some other type of relevant conduct, your obligations regarding your security clearance may begin almost instantly. This will depend on your employment agreement, your employer, the agency granting your clearance, and other factors. Carmichael Ellis & Brock can assist you with making these disclosures to your Facility Security Officer (FSO). It may be beneficial for you to disclose certain information to the FSO or other security official very soon after charges occur. Because we provide criminal defense services, we are very familiar with how criminal case outcomes can affect your security clearance. We are able to aide you in navigating both situations at the same time.
Receiving a statement of reasons or a letter of intent is not the end; it can be the beginning of a long process. But you have a very important opportunity to respond. Carmichael Ellis & Brock can assist you in creating your response in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Because we are familiar with the applicable statutes, references, directives, and executive orders, we can help focus your response on the appropriate areas. We can also represent you should you eventually require an in-person hearing at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) with witnesses, evidence, cross-examination, and arguments. If you proceed to a hearing and your eligibility for clearance is denied, we can also assist you with submitting an appeal to the Appeal Board. We can essentially assist you at every step along the way.
We have represented individuals at most federal agencies, in the military, and in federal law enforcement in many capacities. Please contact Carmichael Ellis & Brock to help defend your career.