Public Trust Anxiety

Greetings Folks -

First and foremost…THANKS! for this wonderful source of information.

I apologize for repetition, but want to take one more stab at this before relaxing, and waiting on adjudication.

I have posted bits and pieces, but will attempt to caputure everything in this run, and hope to have some great feedback. Ed and Marko? LOL And maybe this can help others.

i was notified by my Agency that it was time for my five year reinvestigation. They sent me the SF-85P, and a “supplemental form” in use now for moderate risk. I filled out the SF-85P and the supplemental. In filling out the supplemental, there was a question “have you EVER been convicted of a domestic type thing”. I answered truthfully and described the incident in the notes area. The situation was 28 years ago. I have had several clearances, and was cleared for my current public trust position back in 2013 by my current Agency. This issue didn’t come up, because the SF-85P only goes back 7 years. I called the security office after receiving the form and was told that ANYTHING outside of the 5 years, is not in the scope of the reinvestigation, and not to be considered in my suitability.

So, fast forward to now. I get a visit from an investigator and describe what happened. NO actual assault, no blood alcohol, no drug charge, no jail time, nada. During the conversation I explain that the whole situation was kinda odd because I wasn’t actually arrested. I explain I was not handcuffed, told I was arrested, read my rights, or booked into jail. I was taken before a magistrate and said something stupid, and he had the officer place me in holding until my release a few hours later.

I later went to court and was ordered to attend some anger management classes. Long too short…23 years old, new born son, and I was thrown out of the program. Found a new counselor and completed the counseling. Went back to the court and the judge was irritated that I took so long and found me guilty and I paid a small fine.

In the course of the meeting with the investigator, when asking about “arrest” she stated…you were not in handcuffs? I said no…her definition of arrests was exactly the things that DIDNT happen to me. I stuck with the truth, and told her what happened.

Then, I get a call from her saying I just want to ask one question. She then asked me remember when we met you said you weren’t arrested?". I said yes. She then said "well, how would you explain that I am looking at something that states you were? I said “I have no idea”. She then again asked "You were not in handcuffs or anything? I said no. I said…I told you my experience and perception of the situation as it happened. It was a long time ago, and if I kept my mouth shut to the magistrate, i would have been better off. She said, OK, thanks, and that was it.

Based on advice from you guys I called an attorney-clearance lawyer and the actual police department that was involved in this situation. The lawyer said when your pulled over for a ticket you are considered “arrested” and when I asked the police department about whether being taken before a magistrate constitutes being “arrested” the officer stated that it depends.

So, I have been totally honest with the investigator. The definition that the investigator is using to define arrest is NOT what happened to me, and I have been completely honest.

If I am asked again about this, I fully intend to state exactly what I have found out. Thanks Ed for your previous guidance.

Thoughts? I have spoken to a couple of colleagues who actually did not disclose worse things that came up, and know of others who have far worse and hold Public Trust. Can I relax?

I disclosed the incident…so obviously am not hiding it. I am a career employee and a vet.

Is suitability a challenge here? Public Trust, Moderate Risk - 5N


Read the question again, it states CONVICTED of domestic violence. This is not the same as what she is describing.

So you were found guilty of the incident. I read this as a conviction.

As discussed elsewhere . . . If an investigator has a piece of paper that says that you were arrested, your “perception” doesn’t matter. The proper response is, “I had no idea that this was considered an arrest, but if the official account says that I was arrested, I must have been.”

Now . . . This all happened 27 years ago? What has happened since you discussed with the investigator? Have you been told anything? Because I doubt that this is going to be more than a blip on your reinvestigation. The investigator is REQUIRED to research anything that shows up so he or she is just doing her job. The investigator isn’t making any judgements, they just follow and report the facts.

So, your biggest problem now isn’t the arrest and conviction from 27 years ago, it’s that you “continue to deny that you were arrested even after being presented with contrary information.” Even at that, you should, very likely, be OK. Unless . . . You were required to have reported the arrest and/or conviction during prior investigations.

1 Like

Thanks Ed. This is the first investigation in 20 years in which this has come up. I did as you previously suggested and did some reaearch. Clearance lawyer stated that this does constitute an arrest, the actual police dept where this happened stated that it depends-and they dont have the report anymore-if there was one. I was deemed suitable in 2013 by my current agency and have been told repeatedly that reinvestigations here ONLY take into account a five year period. At any rate, if this comes up, or I am asked about this ever again…the first thing out of my mouth will be I was arrested. When she called me, I didnt want to change my story, since her definition of what happened was different. She actually asked again during the call if I was handcuffed? What was I supposed to do…say yes? I get it, and know how to respond from now on. Thanks!

Should I contact the investigator and tell her what I have learned?

No . . . Why would you say that you were handcuffed if you were not? The problem is that you were arrested, by definition. It doesn’t matter that you have been told that RIs only cover the last five years. It’s not true. The issue at hand is that you didn’t report this arrest or the conviction (which may not have been required since it would appear to have been a misdemeanor, during previous investigations and you should have.

The fact that you, reasonably, believed that you were not arrested IS a mitigating factor for the failure to report the arrest. If the charge and conviction are an issue, you clearly should have know about and reported those. Mitigation will be more difficult but, I think that you should still be able to clear because of the time that has passed. It will just be more difficult.

1 Like

Hi Ed-I reported it. Under the question regarding have you EVER been convicted of a domestic issue-I said yes. The new supplemental form ask a new question. Due to the word EVER. In my past investigations, it was outside fhe timeframe.

A quick stop to an urban myth - your federal background investigation, to include the adjudication, can involve information more than five years ago. This is especially true if the incident/issue/arrest was not adjudicated during a previous investigation and/or if the new investigation is for a higher risk position.

With that disclaimer - the time factor still comes into play. The longer since the last similar behavior, the better off you are in adjudication. Please note, I did not say that the older issue would not cause you pain, just that time is a common mitigating factor.


Thank you very much!