Can You Get a Government Security Clearance With a Criminal Record?

If you’re like many people who want to work for the United States government, you may need a security clearance – but can you get one with a criminal record? This guide explains.

Can You Get a Government Security Clearance With a Criminal Record?

The U.S. government grants security clearances based on how trustworthy it believes a person is. investigators working for the government delve into your past as an indicator of how you’ll behave in the future. These investigators look at things like your criminal history, your credit score and even your college transcripts to determine whether you’re the person they need you to be.

With that said, your criminal history can count against you. However, when the government investigates people for security clearances, it also takes into account how long ago you were convicted of the crime, the severity of the crime, and whether you were sentenced to jail or prison as part of your punishment.

Having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you from getting a security clearance from the United States government. However, it typically makes it more difficult.

Related: If your record is expunged, who can see it?

How the Security Clearance Process Works

When you apply for a security clearance, you typically do so using Form SF-86. This form asks you dozens of questions, including many about your past criminal history.

After you turn in the form, and investigator will review the information you have provided. Your answers may trigger an interview. (Usually, if you answer anything out of the ordinary, an investigator will contact you to get clarification or more information.) An interview is no reason to panic; many security clearance investigations involve interviews.

The investigator assigned to your file will conduct in depth background checks on you. That includes pulling your credit report, talking to people who know you, and digging up criminal histories. The investigator will then compile a report; they’ll turn that report in to an adjudicator. The adjudicator makes the decision on whether to grant you your security clearance. The adjudicator must follow the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines in making a decision.

Do I Have to Disclose Expunged Records to Get a Security Clearance?

Although your records have been expunged, there is a chance that your investigator may learn about them. If an investigator asks you whether you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, you should absolutely be honest That’s because if your investigator catches you lying during the investigation, your chances of obtaining a security clearance go down to zero.

Related: Can people look up expunged criminal records?

Do I Have to Disclose Sealed Records to Get a Security Clearance?

You do have to disclose sealed criminal records during a security clearance investigation. Investigators have access to criminal records, including those that are sealed, which means even if you say you don’t have a record, your investigator will find out. Just like expunged records, lying about your past will forfeit your ability to get a security clearance.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Expungement or Sealing?

If you’re tired of your criminal past coming back to bite you, we may be able to help. Call us right now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below so we can talk about your case.

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