Any type of government-issued security clearance is an implicit bond of trust between the issuing organization and the individual to whom it is issued. Depending upon the nature of the underlying offense, criminal convictions may undermine this trust. If you’ve recently been convicted of a DUI and are awaiting trial on a domestic violence charge, your security clearance may be in serious jeopardy.
Since there are so many different types of security clearances and multiple issuing organizations, there are no hard-and-fast rules for security clearance holders convicted of serious crimes. For most agencies, a single alcohol-related incident is not grounds for revocation. If your initial offense is minor enough, the issuing agency may wait until you have demonstrated a troublesome pattern of alcohol abuse to consider suspending or revoking your clearance.
Likewise, you’ll probably be able to keep your clearance after a single DUI conviction. There are exceptions to this general rule: For obvious reasons, intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA frown upon excessive alcohol use. If you work for an intelligence service, your security clearance may be revoked after a single incidence of public drunkenness. If you were on assignment when the incident occurred, you may be discharged and find yourself subjected to further disciplinary action.
If you’re a new clearance holder or you were convicted of a DUI or other alcohol-related offense before applying for your security clearance, your employer may be even less lenient. In these cases, a single conviction may convince the issuing agency to revoke your clearance.
Absent a conviction, your interim clearance may still be revoked after you enroll in an alcohol-treatment program or disclose that you have done so in the recent past. Conversely, once you’ve made it through your trial period, you’ll be more likely to retain your security clearance after completing a rehabilitation or treatment program.
Your domestic violence charge may complicate matters. If you’re arrested while your security clearance is active, most agencies will take a wait-and-see approach to your case. If you’re eventually convicted, you may lose your security clearance. If you’re exonerated, you will likely keep your clearance but may have to face internal disciplinary measures.
Regardless of the outcome of your case, you must immediately report your arrest and subsequent conviction or acquittal. If you fail to report your domestic violence conviction, your clearance will be revoked and you will lose your job.