Whether criminal charges will result in the automatic denial of a requested security clearance, or whether they will cause a current clearance to be revoked, depends to some extent on the specific charges involved. Adjudicative guidelines address two specific instances: a serious crime such as a felony, and a case where a person has numerous lesser charges.
Being dishonorably discharged from the military or having an allegation of criminal conduct could be enough to have a security clearance denied or revoked. Those on probation or parole may also be at risk of having their security clearance requests denied. Still, there are ways in which many individuals with trouble in their past can obtain needed security clearance.
The seriousness of the offense matters
Minor infractions like traffic or parking tickets, for example, will generally not be a reason to deny or revoke a security clearance, unless there other extenuating circumstances exist. Because these kinds of offenses are not considered criminal conduct, there would be no reason to deny someone security clearance because of them.
However, these instances may be considered when examining an individual's personal conduct. Having too many minor offenses could potentially result in a denial or revocation of a security clearance under the right (or wrong) circumstances. When determining whether repeated minor offenses should result in revoked or denied clearance, several factors will be considered, such as the uniqueness of the circumstances surrounding the offense and whether it was an isolated incident. The goal is not to keep out qualified people, but simply to ensure that clearances are being provided to people who can be adequately trusted with those clearances.
Rehabilitation will be considered when applying for security clearance
If someone committed a crime many years ago and there has been no further evidence of criminal behavior, they may be seen as rehabilitated and granted security clearance. In addition, successful completion of programs that are specific to rehabilitating those with criminal convictions may also be used as evidence that a person has been rehabilitated and that they will no longer engage in any type of illegal behavior. In these cases, it may be possible for a person to receive a security clearance even if they have a criminal charge or conviction in their past. For those who want and need security clearance, considering all options and obtaining legal guidance may increase the chances of obtaining the government security clearance needed to advance their careers.