Military service members and employees of the government might be blindsided by a security clearance denial due to a criminal conviction in the past. With the government keeping so much sensitive information, it must choose carefully who is permitted to learn and use it. While any sort of criminal conviction can be grounds for a denial, those regarding violent crimes or theft crimes are typically the most heavily scrutinized; crimes related to alcohol and drug abuse may also be an automatic disqualification out of fear that you cannot keep a secret.

If you have been denied security clearance due to a criminal conviction, the situation is less than ideal but it is not the end of the process. In most circumstances, you will be given a brief window of time to file an appeal. Most appeals are a one-and-done opportunity, meaning if it is not approved, you cannot appeal again. You must make certain you are confident in your appeal the first time, as you may not get a second chance.

When appealing a denial based on a criminal conviction, consider:

  • What: The specific details of your criminal conviction can make or break your appeal, depending on how you use them. A national security administration that denied your request might have only seen the basic description of the crime – like robbery or assault – and filed your petition away. If you can explain that the details of the violation do not raise a national security concern, you could win your appeal.
  • When: Sometimes a criminal conviction that happened years or decades ago is enough to stop a security clearance application from gaining approval, especially if the clearance being sought is quite privileged. There is possibly room to argue that the conviction should be reconsidered if it is so long ago, it no longer reasonably serves as a reflection of yourself.
  • Why: It may sound odd but you can consider appealing based on why you committed a crime. Some assaults are actually based in self-defense, some DUI arrests occur after a person loses a spouse to an illness and cannot cope, and so on. While these are not excuses for criminal behavior, the point is that your appeal will be judged with discretion. You never know what will convince an administrator to approve of your security clearance, just as you don’t know what will make them deny it.

To work on your appeal with confidence, connect with The Edmund Law Firm and our national security clearance attorneys. We have more than 40 years of collective experienced focused directly on national security clearance appeals. Discover why so many service members around the nation and the world regard us as the national security attorneys by calling (800) 481-2526 or contacting us online.