Felony and security clearances

I have a felony for assault that i got in a bar fight that was 15 years ago when i was 22. I am 36 now and my felony has been expunged. Can i still apply and pass a security clearance? Im thinking of applying for a gov contractor like GA, NG or cymer to work as an engineer.

Yes, you can apply and receive a clearance from most agencies. It will not be an easy process and they will take your life apart. It could take two years or longer (or it could go quickly, no one can tell) . . .

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How have you lived since? Was it an anomaly? What is the whole picture like? I too predict a complete review and possible slow time to close on clearance with a thorough going over. It is outside the 10 on reporting but most definitely bring it up to the investigator. Full disclosure is key, hide nothing.

I assume you ask if i have been a person of “good character.” No i haven’t gotten in any trouble. Im not sure what you mean by 10. I guess what im asking is if a felony conviction in 2003 will prevent me from getting a security clearance. It has been my only conviction ever. It is expunged as well.

You asked that and we both answered . . . No, a felony conviction in 2003 will not prevent you from getting a clearance. Of course, we can only answer in the general sense. If the conviction was for industrial espionage you’re going to have a problem. If it was for providing false information on a loan application, you’re probably fine.


10 year background check would take you back to 2008. Many argue to not even bring it up if outside the 10 year window. Unless of course it is an “have you ever” question, as those mean forever. In theory you can get a clearance. What was the nature of the felony? What was the punishment? How have you lived since? If it was an aberration…and you prove this through conduct otherwise…not an issue.

He’d have to disclose it regardless as felony charges are an “ever” question


Roger that. Didn’t mean to imply not reporting a felony, was trying to address any thought that if it was outside 10, no need to report. I often disagree with people on that point. If it is close to the 10, I bring it up as the 800 pound gorilla in the room. How and exactly what was the nature of the felony will be the heavy factor deciding. I did try getting a guy with a felony cleared. He sat for a poly…and did not pass.

The SF 86 SCA police record section asks, have you ever been charged with a felony. You have to report this - even if expunged.

It used to be amusing when Subject’s yelled at me about how it was wrong we found about an event they paid to have expunged. Now it I just wait for them to finish and ask if they want to complete the interview.

The felony assault itself becomes a minor, but reportable issue, because it was so long ago and there was no additional similar behavior. The felony assault from 15 years ago becomes a potentially disqualifying Personal Conduct issue when it is not reported on the SCA.

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Question for you BI: same subject slight twist. Interviewed a candidate, real mild mannered guy, super credit, no police record (in America), no recreational for 34 plus years, lived a life on the straight and narrow. Except one detail. He spins a story from 20 plus years ago, crossing the border into Canada, totally “forgets” about the gun in glovebox. Tells me how wonderful and nice the Canadian police are, he is detained, charged, pays a whopper of a fine in cash (odd to have that much cash on hand, but I digress) $1800.00 worth. He was told court runs every day, but was closed for that day. I take this to mean he knew he had a court appointment, the money was likely similar to an appearance bond. He drives home, never goes back to Canada. Hears nothing until 15 years later and gets a letter from Canada telling him to report to local law enforcement. He claims local Sheriff said it was equivalent of a bench warrant, and if he never intended to visit Canada again it was something he could ignore (bad advice). I see it as a potential felony equivalent firearm event at an international border, it has not gone away and will likely be seen. I recommended getting statements from the 2 others present in his car, the Sheriff (if willing), and specifically seeking a lawyer dealing with cross border Canada issues. It may be something a lawyer can clear up, it may be something requiring an appearance. I understand he does not want to kick a hornets nest but told him unless he submitted something showing he addressed this I would likely not submit him for the clearance. His position does require a TS SCI Full Poly so I know he will have a reckoning. In the interim, if he had some resolution legally even better. Any input on how you would see this event if handed this BI?

The adjudication guidelines have no exceptions for foreign crimes.

So you have a firearm violation, international law incident, and failure to meet responsibilities, and a 15 year delinquent debt. The Subject needs to create some mitigating information here …

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@backgdinvestigator I have a question for you. I am trying to figure out if I should go through with the Secret Clearance process, my reason for saying is because back in 2011 I was arrested in Ga and transported back to Fl for unemployment fraud. I was hit with a 3rd degree felony and was put on probation until I paid back my debt “restitution”. 2017 I ended up moving back to Fl and wasn’t able to obtain employment due to my record my husband ended up getting my record sealed which was completed 8/18. I was lucky to get a offer with a reputable company but the position requires me to have a secret clearance I haven’t been in any trouble since that happen I have about four negative debts showing on my credit report due to me being unable to find work once I returned back to Fl because of my record. Should I go through with it or just not accept the position?

This is, partly, going to depend on the circumstances of your fraud. Was it simply an error? Was clearly purposeful? A misunderstanding of the rules or an attempt to take advantage of what you incorrectly believed to be a loophole? The fact that you were extradited from GA and charged instead of just being ordered to pay back the unemployment compensation leads me to believe that this was a serious issue.

I think that you will have a problem because of the recency of your probation. While it has been eight years since your arrest, it has been less than two since your probation.

Hi I completed the probation the beginning of 2013, once I finish paying the restitution the probation ended.

I don’t see that making much of a difference. You were under the jurisdiction of the courts while you paid the money back.

The fact that this is the only point that you responded to seems to tell me a lot.

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Thanks BI. That is exactly my interpretation as well. It is a “something” that simply does not go away, and must be addressed. He took my advice, contacted a lawyer specializing in cross border situations with Canada, and though he did not tell me how he resolved it, he tells me it is now addressed. As such, I told him to capture it in writing and include this information when I give the SF86 to him.

NC, that you were arrested out of state, transported to another state tells me this involved big numbers and likely willful actions. I could be wrong. Age can be taken into consideration as a mitigation. My experiences in submitting clearances (30 years) tells me any felony is going to require a lot of proof you overcame this lifestyle. It may require several years of living a charge free life, and having excellent credit. You spoke to a few bad debts…not in your favor. Using the whole person concept it would see they have several items where you are not living up to your obligations. I have yet to get a person cleared with a felony in their past. Granted I only had 3 at best. But they were 10 years prior and the person claimed he overcame the situation. He may have but the government said “make a compelling case to hire this guy over another.” I could not.