Awaiting Public Trust Clearances, questions about my history and if I still have a good chance of being cleared

To anyone who can answer my questions:
I have recently accepted a contingent offer from a private company that handles government contracts. Specifically, the job will be dealing with CBP. The clearance I am trying to obtain is public trust and will have to fill out an SF-85 form. I am concerned because of my criminal, drug, and work history. However, nothing too severe… there is still cause for concern. I have been arrested on 3 different occasions for marijuana related charges twice and once for Xanax. The first marijuana charge was for under 10 g misdemeanor and turned to be a nolle prosequi, the second was for paraphernalia, concealed deadly weapon (which were a pair of nunchucks for my halloween costume I had left in my car) and the worst was intent to distribute felony over 10g. However, the felony was reduced to under 10 g and also after court proceedings I was never convicted of anything, I ended up getting 6 months supervised probation, went to drug counseling, testing, and went to NA meetings. The third I was arrested for having Xanax, which in all honesty was not mine. I was the designated driver one night for my ex friends and I was driving an ex friends car and pulled over for speeding on our way back home. Upon getting pulled over the officer observed the Xanax in the car which I had no idea about, I stupidly did not see the pills nor did I really even know what they were. Unfortunately the people I was with would not own up to it and all three of us in the car were charged and arrested, however once again, we were never convicted it turned out to be a stet. In addition, I was terminated this past year at a job, but It wasn’t for anything serious. And this is the truth, I had accidentally left a piece of equipment out at my job and even called my manager to return it to its spot since it was a sensitive piece of equipment but he refused and I had already left which was a 30-40 minute drive from my house looking back it was a stupid stupid mistake since my actual work with the company was positive. In addition, at this job I had already put In my two weeks and was leaving already and it was my last week there. I would say that it was a mutual decision for me to leave… I know this is a lot to say but in my eyes I dont think after reading online, that this is grounds to not get approved but obviously I am still nervous about not being cleared. Can someone with knowledge on clearances help me out here? I do not even know who I would go to for help. I have not filled out the form but it is coming up. On a side note, I have not used any drugs since the incidents which happened 3+ years ago I think that fact is also important. Someone please help! This job means everything for my career since I am relatively young only 25 years old and the events occurred while I was in college.

Depending on how long ago all these things happened, you have a serious hill to climb. Reading your post I actually thought you were a troll and just kidding around. These are serious events, especially the intent to distribute felony and probation. I would seek employment where a clearance is or public trust is not required. When we are young we do some very stupid things, learn from this, change your life, and move forward positively. The way to mitigate these things is time…

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I need this job very badly and the pay is the highest pay I have ever gotten so I am obviously going to try my best. The felony was reduced to a misdemeanor before hand in court and these events happened 3-5 years ago. What do you think my chances are?

What are your chance? It is hard to tell. We can better advise you if we know the agency if you do not mind sharing. Also, which form (SF-85 or SF-86) are you filling out? As for the felony charge, the government will typically view the original charge not the reduced charge.

I agree with @ipsecmerlin that you have uphill battle. I think your odds will significantly increase with a few more years under your belt.

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@AWoodhull . . . The agency is CBP which, I believe is pretty tough on drug charges.

You have a very big hill to climb and I suspect that you not going to make the cut. In any case, don’t sit around waiting for this job to materialize. It’s going to take time to get through the process and you need to be working in the meantime.

Also as I said int he post I went through drug counseling, NA meetings, and did testing throughout. I have no used ever since as well.

and to add to it, as I said in the post I was never charged with anything and these events especially the worse one has already been expunged off my record, thats how long its been…

the agency is CBP (customs border patrol) and its a public trust clearance which I believe to be one of the lowest ones. The form I am filling out is SF-85 (e-Qip). Yea its been more than 3 and a half years since those incidents. I know its an uphill battle but I think that everything has been mitigated through the counseling and the years of being clean and having a good record since then.

Was this counseling voluntary or imposed by the court?

The drug counseling and NA meetings were advised by my lawyer so it was not imposed by the court, it was done before hand, before I arrived at the court date. Paid for by my own money and time. I even did testing in the counseling before hand as well. The probation was imposed by court and was for 6 months and I had no issues with that as well.

The counseling was voluntary.

@EdFarmerIII, thanks for the information. I didn’t catch it. Admittedly, I am not familiar with CBP and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). I do know that DHS is loosing up on drug-related stuff. Nonetheless, had this been a Department of Justice agency, I would believe that s/he has barely to nil chance.

@KGKG11, it is my advice to you is that you should go through the process. Even with a public trust suitability denial, you do not need to mention it as opposed to a security clearance denial.

Now, on the SF-85 (, you do not need to list anything related to the drug issues since it is outside the scope of the form based on the December 2013 version. Item 14 of the form asks specifically “In the last year,…”

Regarding to the termination, the form did not ask for that. About your arrest, the form did not ask about that.

The only thing I can see for you is question #12 of the OF-306 regarding to the termination.

With that said, it depends on the forms you are filling out. Answer the questions truthfully and thoroughly. Obviously, don’t volunteer information that was not asked, but don’t lie.

You had a rough patch. You were young. If 3 to 5 years have passed you have a great start on time as mitigation. You have done the right things as of late. Merlin indicated taking a shot at another job first to buy more time, prove a consistent work ethic etc. Continue to not use, and separate yourself from past behavior. CBP has the lowest pass rate on their Polygraphs. I don’t think you will need one for that job. But know this, hide anything and you will not pass. Quibble? You will not pass. They are under heavy scrutiny as of late regarding the serial killer, and ICE being a new dirty word. Normally 12 months no use is good enough for school hi jinks. Do not hide any of this if you choose to proceed. If denied I am not sure there is an appeal on positions of trust as there is for clearances. I have seen significant drug use overcome by time and proved on appeals. But eh felony charge though not completed…is troubling. I would work with your lawyer to see if any of this can be reduced, removed etc. In many cases a good judge can help. You still report it but it shows you are engaged, concerned and trying to “adult,” and do the right things. I would even continue to take voluntary drug tests to prove no use. In short you had a rough patch, but now have 3 to 5 years of clean living. I believe you are entering into a long enough period where many would consider it mitigated. But you run the risk of a denial

The form I have to fill out is the SF-85P and it does in fact ask me about my police record and drug use in the last 7 years and last year, respectively, in questions 20-21. @AWoodhull that makes me feel a little better though I am definitely going to go through the steps since I am eager to get this job. I am a really passionate and intelligent person (not to boast) and I think that the interviewer will be able to see a lot of positive qualities in me other than my regretful history. I did a lot of reading and I’ve seen cases of people getting convicted for violence crimes or harder drugs and yet still got the clearance. Marijuana arrests is clearly an issue for a lot of people in the US… nonetheless still illegal. Had these occurred a year later I would have gotten tickets and no arrests in my state.

@amberbunny and Merlin- I am and have been employed since the termination earlier this year, I actually was on my way out already at my last job I had already put in my two weeks but during my last week they terminated me for the reason described earlier. I have bills to pay so there was no way I could stop working. There are other factors as well I think that would show I am very competent such as I have purchased a townhome and pay a mortgage, long time gf, completed my Bachelor’s, and I have a ton of really good references at various other jobs ive had, etc.

You definitely did all that is within your power to demonstrate a more responsible approach to life. Just my humble opinion here, worth what I charge you (free): don’t attempt to negotiate away the significance of the crime and job dismissal. Capture it exactly as you recall them capturing it. If that means reaching back out to the manager or owner and expressing remorse, and wanting to clear the air…so be it. They will pull personnel records. You want to report it exactly as it was. I think you are on the cusp of mitigation myself. The cusp. And CBP had a high standard of screening, and now it is even higher. They will give more weight to this negative info. Be prepared to discuss all the mitigation efforts (good stuff) since last issue. But don’t go down the path of “it really wasn’t serious, I would get a ticket today.” Just my 2 cents worth. Humility goes a long way along with true remorse. You were on a bad path but you turned it around. We understand you need work, we all do but we spoke to that in the vein of thinking you need another year or 2 to mitigate. Research appeals to denials for solid info before you apply. If you have solid enough support for stronger crimes overcame…best of luck.

@amberbunny thank you for the advice, I will not downplay any event that happens and like you said just state the facts of what happened and nothing else. I have actually reached out to my manager already to express remorse and to apologize before I went in for the first interview at the company.

Also @amberbunny can you explain what you mean by this statement: “but we spoke to that in the vein of thinking you need another year or 2 to mitigate.” Are you saying that you think I need another 1-2 years for my situation to be deemed mitigated? Ontop of the 3-4 years?

Thank you for the advice it goes a long way I am still very positive about this situation.

I think that was the overall point from above and all those posting. Time mitigates a lot of misconduct. The age you were and what you were doing at the time also mitigates a lot. So the “young, dumb and stupid, youthful exuberance,” excuse does cover a lot. If you are 3 to 5 years out I think you are well on your way to complete mitigation, with 3 years being the minimum. I had a polygrapher tell me “3 years is old., 5 years is very old…7 to 10 years it falls off the edge.” Full disclosure: I had a misuse of prescription medication issue myself. Something I would never do again, and have no rational explanation for it ever occurring. Yet there I sat answering questions from 5 to 8 years prior. In my case the severity of emotional issue, unlikely to repeat itself, under severe stress…came into play. Yours was recreational and yes there is some explanation for the one issue not being yours. You have the young, college age, living wild thing going for you. Since then, new circle of friends, education, job, responsible tax paying citizen. They aren’t looking for angels, but if they so much as get a whiff you are playing it down or splitting hairs I would expect a denial, and need for appeal. After that you will need wait a year to reapply. I would recommend contacting a clearance lawyer and paying for their time to research previous clearance denials overturned or successful clearance for those with challenged paths. That is the best way to fully tell you if this is smart now, or smarter in another 2 years with 5 to 7 years of mitigation and 2 more years living clean. Perhaps pursue a job in local law enforcement (after researching their standards). Get someone to take a trust in you with known background. Live up to that trust, then try CBP. Keep us posted. We learn from real world test cases.

Thanks for the insight I will go along with the steps and see how it goes and post back here sometime. I will note that this position is not AS a border patrol agent , rather working with them at a separate company that handles govt contracts on a project unrelated to actual enforcement activities but a certain “structure”. Maybe that changes everyone’s perspective but maybe not. I still have to go through clearance but this is not an enforcement position rather closer to engineering/policies.

Sounds good. But I will say…they have a bear of a polygraph program if the position requires a TS. That can seriously delay you if there is a stumble along the way.