Depending on the type of security clearance, a criminal charge or conviction can absolutely affect a security clearance. Any criminal conviction comes up on a basic security clearance background check, especially in Virginia. This is important because things that are not normally charged as crimes outside of Virginia, for example, certain reckless driving charges, will definitely come up on a Virginia background checks and will be something a person will have to explain to any future employers. For this reason, it is important to contact a Virginia criminal lawyer as soon as possible to get started building a defense and minimize the harm as much as possible.
Different types of security clearances show different levels of scrutiny. For example, some clearances require disclosing any type of charge in addition to any type of conviction, while other security clearances only address convictions. Still others require disclosure for things such as a speeding ticket. That’s why a Virginia criminal lawyer should always speak with their clients to find out more about their level of security clearance and what their reporting requirements are, or will be.
A Virginia criminal defense attorney should also tailor their approach to their clients’ cases based on how their client’s charge will affect their security clearance. For example, if somebody is going to have to disclose any type of charge in addition to any conviction, sometimes there are ways to find an outcome where the person’s charge is either dismissed or the prosecutor asks the judge for a nolle prosequi, which means it was dropped by the prosecutor. The person that has either of those outcomes can apply to have the charge itself expunged so it does not show up on certain security clearance checks, even as a charge.
When a client has a security clearance, their criminal defense lawyer should speak with the client about what their goals are for their security clearance. This usually involves asking the clients about the level of their security clearance and what they potentially need to disclose to their human resources department to comply with the requirements of their clearance. Once the lawyer finds out exactly what they are working with regarding the specific client, they can talk with them about their options.
For some clients this means trying to avoid anything that could be a criminal conviction, for other clients this means trying to avoid anything that would be an infraction with a fine over $150, $200, or $250. Still for others, this could be a situation where they need to have the case completely dismissed or have a nolle prosequi entered, meaning the prosecutor declines to continue the case. At that point the lawyer should take the extra step of seeking an expungement, which means that the charge on file would be removed from the record.
When individuals are worried about their security clearance, an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer will make sure to tell them that they can work with their concerns. A lawyer will first ask the client to tell them about any reporting requirements, and what level of clearance they are dealing with, because this will inform the representation. The attorney will also let them know there are ways that they can work around the requirements of the security clearance to get an outcome in their case that will allow them to pass the security clearance even when the evidence looks pretty strong against them. This is part of a comprehensive defense plan that the lawyer should create with their clients, always based on the best possible outcome for that client.
Sometimes this will mean taking a case where somebody is charged with reckless driving and negotiating a deal with the prosecutor in advance that comes with a lower fine, and is not a criminal offense. It always depends on what the client’s needs are.