Criminal records are one of the four most common reasons that individuals are not awarded security clearance. The Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Access To Classified Information, a set of rules that govern who is allowed access to classified information, may cause those with criminal histories to be denied security clearance.
The Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Access To Classified Information asserts that criminal activity creates a sense of doubt about an individual's trustworthiness, judgement and reliability. Those applying for security clearances must list all arrests within the past seven years, or the past 10 years if they are applying for Top Secret clearance, whether they were convicted or not.
Charges that have been sealed or expunged must also be listed, with the exception of drug convictions sealed by a federal court. No federal agencies may grant security clearance for Sensitive Compartmented Information, Special Access Programs or Restricted Data to individuals who have been convicted, incarcerated and sentenced to prison for a period of longer than one year or dishonorably discharged from any branch of the Armed Forces. However, individuals who have been incarcerated for longer than one year or dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces may be denied any level of security clearance. Those who falsify information when applying for security clearance are committing a felony.