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Washington DC Security Clearance Lawyer

If you work for the military or a government contractor in a position that requires access to sensitive information, then you are probably going to need a security clearance. Obtaining a security clearance is not a simple, one-time affair. To the contrary, the initial application process can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete. And even after you obtain a clearance, you will be subject to periodic reviews to ensure that you are still trustworthy enough to handle the government’s secrets.

At Henault & Sysko Chartered, our Washington DC security clearance lawyers are former employees of the National Security Agency who know this process firsthand. We can assist you with any security clearance-related legal matter, including the initial application process and appealing any adverse clearance decisions. Whatever your prior experience with the security clearance process may be, our attorneys can make sure you are fully informed of your rights and responsibilities under the law.

What Types of Information Require a Security Clearance?

Not all “classified” information is treated the same. The U.S. government divides its sensitive information into three broad categories, each of which requires its own security clearance:

  • Confidential information is that which “could cause damage to national security” in the event of unauthorized disclosure.
  • Secret information is that which “could cause serious damage to national security” in the event of unauthorized disclosure.
  • Top Secret information is that which “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security” in the event of unauthorized disclosure. And within the “Top Secret” level there are also two additional designations applied to certain types of information–Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and Special Access Programs (SAP)–which require their own special clearances.

Common Questions You Need to Answer When Applying for a Clearance

As you move up the clearance ranks from “Confidential” to “Top Secret,” the level of scrutiny increases. But every security clearance requires the applicant to disclose substantial information to the government that goes beyond the parameters of a normal background check. Here are just some of the questions you will need to consider when applying for a security clearance:

  • Do you have a history of financial responsibility? Believe it or not, one of the most common grounds cited for denying a security clearance is an applicant’s financial history. If you are carrying a lot of credit card debt, living beyond your means, or have filed for bankruptcy, that can seriously jeopardize your chances at obtaining or retaining a security clearance.
  • Have you used illegal drugs? Even though political and social attitudes towards “recreational” drugs like marijuana have softened in some states and localities in recent years, they remain strictly illegal under federal law. So any history of past illegal drug use can be used against you when applying for a security clearance.
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest or divided loyalties? The decision to grant or deny a security clearance often comes down to the government’s assessment of the applicant’s loyalty. If you have family or business interests in a foreign country, for instance, that can raise concerns about your ability to handle sensitive information.

At Henault & Sysko Chartered, we can help you to address these (and other) concerns as part of the application process. And if you are denied a security clearance for any reason, we can assist you in filing an appeal with the appropriate agency. So if you need practical, professional advice from an experienced DC security clearance lawyer, call us today at 410-768-9300 to schedule an initial consultation.

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