A subscriber to the ClearanceJobsBlog is concerned about a misdemeanor they incurred and whether it will hurt their career requiring a position of public trust:

I am a 12 year fed and was involved in a Domestic Violence situation that led to me spending a little over a month in jail (received no bond due to embellishment of situation). Prosecutor has offered misdemeanor (assault) no jail time and I am currently trying to negotiate Probation Before Judgement.

My investigation is due this summer and I am concerned that I may not pass it due to my situation. I know to tell the truth and that every case is unique and depends on all the factors.

Does the amount of the time spent in jail factor into the outcome? I would go to trial, but I have been through so much already and do not want to risk losing and being sentenced to even one day in jail. Therefore, I’m strongly considering a plea.

If I accept the misdemeanor PBJ, any idea if this result in me failing the investigation? I know others in my agency who have misdemeanor charges (assault/DUI) who have passed. I don’t know what to think and as you can imagine, I am highly stressed by this. I am also at the top of the GS schedule…

Very stressed… Any advice or guidance is genuinely appreciated.

Probation before judgment (PBJ) is a first offender program that avoids a conviction being entered. The court defers further proceedings, strikes finding someone “guilty”, and enters probation before judgment.

This being a first time offense is certainly a mitigating factor and will be taken into consideration.

However, self-reporting is a clear policy for security clearance holders and those in positions of public trust. Reporting this situation is a must for you to even have a chance to maintain your current role – and I would not wait until you have to fill out your SF85-P again. The time spent in jail isn’t necessarily the issue. The challenge is more so the assault itself.

The original poster comments further:

I have confirmed that it will actually not be a domestic violence charge and will be second degree assault.

Outside of my boss (who is a close friend of mine) and one other close friend of mine/another Director who knew, I took annual leave to cover me while in jail. I [am] heavily liked and supported at work, so I spoke to 2 higher ups in case the investigation leads to any questions that end up on their desk. They support me.

My background investigation is due this summer for my public trust clearance. I will have to report the charge, jail time, and outcome on the SF-85P.

That’s my main concern.

If you did not report the original charge, your honesty will be under scrutiny. Being in a position of public trust, you are held to a higher responsibility than a position with no special requirements – even though the position doesn’t require a security clearance. Self-report the arrest and charges to your security officials, as Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD)-3 requires all clearance holders to immediately relay any criminal charges to their security official or company FSO. This honesty is an opportunity to be proactive in providing mitigating information that that could prevent a clearance suspension or revocation. Be honest with the information (e.g. “I was arrested on May XX, 2022, for an alleged assault. I have hired a criminal defense attorney and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges, and am attending an anger management course in the meantime. I will provide additional updates on the case as they become available”) but don’t overshare details that aren’t necessary, either.


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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸