Section 28 -- Non-Criminal Court Actions -- Have to declare traffic court?!


#1

I recently had my subject interview which was mostly non-controversial. One thing that surprised me was that the NBIB investigator told me that I should have disclosed two appearances in Traffic Court under Section 28: “Non-Criminal Court Actions”.

In neither case was the underlying charged offense for a fine for more than $300, so neither event was listed in Section 22: “Police Record”. In one case, I got the ticket dismissed altogether, and in the other I pled it down from 11 mph over (I think) to 5 mph over to avoid getting any points on my license.

According to the investigator, if I’d simply paid the tickets I wouldn’t have had to list them in Section 28 (or Section 22, because again, none of the offenses were over $300), but because I went to Traffic Court, it needed to be listed even though the end result was dismissal and a lesser offense. That doesn’t make much sense to me because I thought Section 28 was for “civil court action” and Traffic Court didn’t count as civil, but I could be wrong.

Did my FSO lead me wrong on this, or were the investigators mistaken? I hope this doesn’t ding me for dishonesty. I explained that I didn’t know these were to be listed.


#2

Sorry–I should add that the investigators were contractors (silver badge), not actually from NBIB, if that matters.


#3

Doesn’t matter. And it more likely than not won’t matter during adjudication assuming what you’re saying is accurate.

In any case, as outlined in the SF, if the matter was due to a traffic violation where you paid less than $300.00, and it did not relate to alcohol or drugs, we don’t care for it. Section 28 will generally refer to a civil court case where you are a named party (i.e., plaintiff or defendant for a case not otherwise indicated elsewhere on the form).

What was the nature of the court appearance?


#4

Also–neither offense had anything to do with drugs or alcohol. The first was a ticket for texting (which was dismissed after I showed from my cell phone bill that no texts had been sent or received within a couple of hours on either side of the citation time–the police office was mistaken in thinking my cell phone was in my hand; I was actually putting on sunglasses) and the second was a simple speeding ticket with no complicating factors.


#5

Thanks for the response. Yeah, I’ve never had any actual civil court appearances (neither plaintiff nor defendant), just the two times in Traffic Court, and after I described the traffic tickets to my FSO he said that they didn’t need to be declared anywhere. The investigator confirmed that they didn’t have to be listed in Section 22 after my description–but then when we got to Section 28, said “But you said you went to Traffic Court for the ticket you told me about earlier. Why didn’t you declare that court appearance here?” I immediately felt awful but was pretty much at a loss, other than to say “I didn’t think I had to because it was a traffic offense for less than $300.”

The nature of the first Traffic Court appearance (6 years ago) was asking for the cell-phone texting ticket, and an accompanying no-proof-of-insurance ticket, to be dismissed on the basis of my phone records showing no texts or calls anywhere near the time the citation was written, plus documentation that I actually did have insurance, even though I hadn’t had the current card in my glove compartment when pulled over. This was successful; the judge dismissed everything.

The nature of the second Traffic Court appearance (2 years ago) was agreeing not to contest it in exchange for a lower-speed citation that would not result in points on my driver’s license. Neither the charged speed or the pled speed had a fine for over $300.


#6

Sounds like a judgment call was made… for whatever reason.

Not even worth thinking about it, let alone losing sleep. Have a beer (responsibly), enjoy the weekend.


#7

Cheers! Thanks! Yeah, the issues themselves are absolutely trivial (obviously)–my only concern was that it somehow reflected on my honesty.

Will crack open a cold one shortly. :slight_smile:


#8

Update: had a second, shorter meeting with the investigators (mostly to confirm specific dates of degrees and employment along their timeline), and got asked a bunch more questions including whether someone could use my dismissed 6-year-old traffic ticket, or the 2-year-old zero point traffic ticket as the basis for blackmail!

Those kinds of questions make sense for an actual offense (and I answered them seriously, “no,” though I felt a little silly doing it), but do seem odd given that all of these are in the “under $300 traffic court, no drugs/alcohol” category. I feel like they’ve somehow placed these two traffic events in the wrong category (because I went to traffic court instead of just paying the tickets) and that triggered a bunch of followup questions meant for, you know, actual crimes.


#9

Traffic offenses can be criminal or civil offenses… Were your violations under a criminal statute?


#10

I guess I can see why a follow up was necessary… but yes, to an outsider, it’s a seemingly odd thing to develop, again assuming your description of the initial exchange is accurate. But it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further regarding what’s potentially happening behind the scenes (nothing bad).

My advice: forget about it. You’re thinking too much. Information gets collected for a separate party at this stage. They’re not the ones making final determinations. Sometimes the more information, the merrier. To you, it won’t make sense. If you did nothing wrong as you say, followed instructions, and assuming the adjudicating agency is fair, impartial, and reasonable you shouldn’t have a reason to lose your cool.


#11

If the investigator knows about any issue or derogatory information, they have to ask you about them. You are better off when they report that there is no additional issue and you can’t be blackmailed. The investigation has to clearly report clarification for any vague information.

The normal traffic infractions under the threshold are not concerns unless you have a pattern of traffic infractions that might indicate. Just like misplaced dates and such.


#12

No, they weren’t. They both explicitly said “civil infraction” and the fines were well under $300 in both cases (or would have been, in the former case; that one was dismissed entirely as I described above so in fact I paid zero).

I mean, for goodness sake, one of them was for 5mph over the limit in a 55 zone. On what planet is that a criminal offense? (The other one, which was dismissed, was for texting–but I was not actually texting and could demonstrate it from my cell phone records, which is why it was dismissed.)


#13

Also, as I described above, the investigator agreed that neither of these should have been listed under Section 22 (which is why I omitted them entirely: my FSO told me to do so), but that they should have been listed under Section 28, for civil court action. I was not aware that Section 28 was meant encompass Traffic Court.

Again, these were simple, low-dollar traffic tickets with no complicating factors. Every clearance guide ever written says “omit”.


#14

OK (I have two clarifying comments to “dave019” apparently awaiting moderation, also–to clarify that the tickets specifically said “civil infraction” on them, in answer to his question. They are just normal traffic tickets, honest. The only unusual thing is that I appeared in court to get one dismissed and the other reduced from a 10-mile-over 2-point violation to a 5-mile-over 0-point violation to keep my insurance rates from going up.) I guess I would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble just paying the tickets by mail, since it’s the physical appearance in court that seemed to have the investigator worked up.

I guess my real question is, if I have to fill out an SF-86 in the future, do I list traffic court appearances (for non-alcohol, non-drug, non-violent offense with fines under $300) in Section 28 as the investigator suggested? Every single piece I’d gotten before actually meeting with the investigator was that those things didn’t belong anywhere on the SF-86. But I’m willing to learn; this is my first time through the process. I do think the question should be more clear on the form if those are actually intended to be collected.


#15

If something has been disclosed, then how could it possibly then be used as a basis for blackmail?


#16

No. Not required. Some ambiguities of the SF can be its downfall because many things can be interpreted in several ways.

@xenonman - that’s a legitimate question. You would think that disclosing something would make you less susceptible. But there’s a case to be made for more serious activities–sure you may have disclosed something serious to the government, but then what would happen if everyone else knew? How would you behave? What would the reaction be from those close to you?

For far less serious things, yes, I think it’s irrational to think it would be of any significance, but we all differ in what makes us tick.


#17

Disclosure only prevents a blackmailer from threatening to tell your employer or the agency holding your clearance about your activity. A blackmailer could still threaten to tell your spouse or family or just to out you on Facebook.

During my investigation, I was asked if my father’s drug arrest from 1973 could be used to blackmail me . . .