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Security Clearances

SECURITY CLEARANCES: PROTECTING YOURS

Security clearances are a common component of employment in the Northern Virginia area, and there are many different levels of clearance.  These clearances are frequently required by government agencies, intelligence agencies, the military, and government contractors.  Depending on the type of clearance, extensive background investigations and sometimes polygraph examinations are required.  The first step in any clearance application, however, is to fill out the complex and sometimes confusing form SF-86, SF-85P, or e-QIP, if completed online, giving the investigator the guide to your life.  It will include your biographical background, such as places you lived, worked, grew up, family members, where you attended school, your finances, travel, and many other aspects.

Questions about security clearances come up in many contexts, and applicants can benefit from the advice of a lawyer.  There may be things you are not sure you can or should reveal on the application, such as confidential information, and you need guidance.  Or, you may know that you will have to disclose a fact, such as drug use or bankruptcy, and are worried that it could affect approval of the clearance.  Harris, Carmichael & Ellis, PLLC, guides individuals through the initial application process so that they avoid the pitfalls which would result in denial.

Once a clearance has been granted, re-investigations occur periodically.  Obviously, in the post-Manning and Snowden environment, the government takes ongoing security clearance investigations very seriously.  If you need to amend or correct something that would affect your clearance, the best result is obtained by retaining a lawyer to act as a liaison for you in this process.  It is almost never a good idea to wait until an investigator discovers something on his or her own.  Pre-empting their discovery by revealing it yourself, with a good explanation and mitigation, results in a better outcome.  

If you have been charged with or convicted of a crime, in some instances you may be required to disclose this to your employer or the agency who granted your clearance.  Again, rules differ depending on your type of clearance and your employer.  In these situations, it is important to have an experienced lawyer, from the beginning of your case, work as hard as possible to secure a dismissal or not guilty verdict.  However, you will need to be advised, simultaneously, regarding the effect on your clearance.  We are extremely sensitive to these issues and fully advise our clients on possible outcomes, and protecting their clearance.

If you have received a Statement of Reasons or Letter of Intent, you will have to respond, and doing so without the advice of an attorney is not advisable.  Our attorneys are experienced at not only providing the above advice, but at representing you should your case proceed to a DOHA or other agency hearing once your clearance has been denied or ruled to be in jeopardy.  We represent individuals in a variety of federal agencies, such as DOJ, CIA, NSA, DHS, ICE, Department of State, and military courts, as well as individuals employed by contractors. Contact us right away so we can help walk you through this process and protect your livelihood.

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