Secret clearance renewal - Shoplifting first offense

I have held a security clearance since 2014 and it is coming up for renewal. I did something extremely stupid last week and received summons to criminal court for petit larceny misdemeanor ($200+) I am in my 40s and other than 2 traffic tickets a years ago, I have excellent credit, no debt (besides a mortgage) or back taxes etc. Squeaky clean record, excellent ratings/awards every year etc…

I have engaged a criminal defense lawyer who advised me to be proactive (1) seek counseling, (2) complete shoplifting course and (3) volunteer for community service. She is working towards a “no prosequi” at best and a dismissal as the worst case scenario. The court date is scheduled for the end of November which she is hoping to move to December to allow for more time to complete my to-do list.

I will need to disclose this to my agency’s security officer within 10 business days (I plan to do so on Friday which is Day 7).

I have been so sick with worry and am extremely depressed about what the future outlook will look like. Will I lose my clearance and therefore my job, my children and I will no longer have health insurance, I won’t be able to find another federal or federal related job in my field which I have dedicated over 20 years to and yes, I know, this was my own fault. I am hoping what we are allowed to make a mistake and recover. has anyone been in/know of a similar situation and what the outcome is? Trying to anticipate what to expect in the coming months, when does the security clearance renewal process typically initiate?

Any input or words of encouragement is much appreciated :pray:t2:

Most likely your security clearance will be suspended. There is actually a guide that these security officers follow when deciding to suspend someone’s clearance. I don’t recall if the guide is classified or not but any criminal charge that is a class 1 misdemeanor or felony usually results in security clearance suspension. If you are at a government agency, you will not lose your job. You will just sit in the doghouse with uncleared boring work until the government decides to give you your clearance back, which can take years.

If you work for a contractor, your clearance gets suspended, and you need your clearance for work, then you might be fired! The contractor will not want to keep paying you when you can’t do the work you were hired to do.

Thanks for the input Larry, I am federal employee at an agency (not DoD), I will be reporting the incident today :pensive: Would it be better to just quit my job so that my ratings are not affected and find a job not requiring clearance? I imagine if I’m suspended, I cannot perform my job and thus, will have negative ratings.

Is this the guide you were thinking of?

DoDM 5000.02 Procedures for the DoD Personnel Security Program (

I don’t think that is the document. The document may be SBU or classified and it varies by agency. For example a couple of decades ago, the FBI had an internal document that said anyone who used marijuana over 10 times is a habitual offender and should be deemed unsuitable. This document was not public. The only thing public on this FBI employment policy was a three-year time frame for an applicant to be weed-free . . . and ten years for other drugs. This was many years ago, like around 9-11.

The security folks at agencies have some non-public criteria they follow when suspending a clearance. I know of people arrested for felonies and had their clearance immediately suspended. I know of someone who received only a citation for being a public nuisance and did not lose his clearance.

If you are a federal employee, do not quit. Your clearance will be suspended but not your job. You will still have a job with full payment and benefits while the matter is investigated. The bad news is that you will just do meaningless unclassified work, possibly becoming a paper-pusher, and it may take a couple of years before you get your clearance back.

If you do decide to quit, that is your choice, and you can go look for unclassified work only. You will not be able to get a new clearance for a while. If you quit right after your clearance is suspended, then your clearance goes into a Loss of Jurisdiction (LOJ) phase which is like a black hole. When you are in LOJ, some agency needs to take the extra time and effort to re-adjudicate your clearance because an Incident Report red flag will be on your file. No agency will want to do this so they will just reject you for the job. I have seen people get hired by contractors only to find out this red flag LOJ is on their file but they stayed hired with uncleared work for about a year before the job terminated them. They actually signed an agreement with the job saying they must be able to get a clearance within a year of the job can terminate them.

There is no telling how long Incident Reports or LOJ status remains on file.

Larry thank you, that is really helpful. I’ve been with this agency for over 4 years (non-DoD) and 12 years as a Federal employee. While we all have secret clearances, none of the material we deal with are classified, mostly FOUO… so not sure if that impacts the type of work I’d be doing if suspended? I do feel much better that the position does not get suspended, it was depressing looking for alternate work that did not require clearance (not very many/much lower grade). I am deeply embarrassed that this has happened but want to be positive and work through this. If I understand the SAG guidelines, the citation in itself is more important than the outcome (dismissal/case dropped/expunged). Looking at the mitigating factors that I currently have/working on;

1 - completed the Theft Awareness Course,
2 - will start good-faith voluntary community service tomorrow (I plan to complete 50 hours by my court date),
3 - working on seeing a therapist just to understand why
4 - no other records, ever

Do you think there a positive outcome is realistic give that this just happened???

Also, will my coworkers/supervisors be informed of the suspension and the underlying cause?

Thank you so much Larry for your insight!!!

All of that will work in your favor, but the security clearance suspension is imminent and inevitable. The security folks at your agency will consider everything you have listed when re-adjudicating your clearance and it may help you get the clearance back sooner.

Thanks Larry, do they suspend you before the court date/disposition? How long once suspended does it take to get to a final resolution?