Completing what seems like a simple enough application for security clearance can lead to you needing a security clearance denial attorney. But in addition to applying for security clearance, it can be revoked or suspended at any point in time after being initially approved.
If you are faced with either of these situations, you may be thinking do I need to hire a top-secret clearance lawyer? Or is it a process that I can address on my own.
Security clearance is not a simple process and engaging a security clearance denial attorney from the outset can significantly improve your chances of having your clearance approved or reinstated.
Why was your security clearance application denied or suspended?
Even before submitting an application, this is a question you should have at the forefront of your mind. Is there anything that might be questioned? And am I prepared to address them?
There are several reasons why your application may be reconsidered, or your clearance revoked. Some of the reasons that may be raised in relation to denying clearance application include:
· Financial concerns, for example, you’re experiencing debt which may be a cause for concern in your position
· Personal conduct
· Failing to disclose an arrest on your completed SF-86 or other criminal conduct
· Alcohol or drugs
There are cases where the denial of security clearance was made contrary to law or an unjust decision is made.
In the event of any of the above during your application for clearance, you will be issued with a Letter of Intent to deny your security clearance. This is the first part of the process before the clearance is denied. Previous clearance can also be revoked.
In responding, you need to understand the appeal process and why it is necessary to hire a lawyer to assist in the proceedings from the outset.
Understanding the security clearance appeal process
The denial and appeal process for security clearance for contractor personnel is administered by the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA). The appeal is the final step of a multi-faceted approach to responding to a security clearance denial.
Here is how the process generally works.
1. The Statement of Reasons
You will be presented with a Statement of Reasons if DOHA is contemplating denying or revoking your clearance. This is generally done as a Letter of Intent (LOI). The good thing about receiving a Letter of Intent means you are advised the reason why your application may be denied. It gives you the opportunity to review the reason(s) and then take steps to make an appropriate response.
There are 2 things to consider after receiving the Statement of Reasons.
i). You can submit a response to the Statement, which, if done correctly, can result in the clearance without having to go to a formal hearing. It can also save you a lot of time and money if you can avoid a formal hearing.
ii). But your response can also lead to the need for a hearing. And depending on what you have placed in your response, it can lock you in to an answer which your attorney will now need to defend.
2. The Administrative Hearing
In submitting your response to the Statement of Reasons, you can indicate whether you want the judge to make a decision based solely on what you have written, or whether you want to attend an in-person hearing before a DOHA administrative judge.
The second option gives you the personal touch of offering relevant supporting information before the administrative judge.
Now, make no mistake, the in-person hearing is quite similar to a court trial and just as serious. You’ll be presenting before the judge and the proceedings will have a court reporter, a government attorney, and even witnesses.
If you fail to note how important this hearing is, you can show up wholly unprepared to make a defense for yourself.
3. The Appeal
This is the final step you have if the judge denies your clearance at the hearing.
It is not a chance to re-argue the facts of the case. It is an opportunity to present a technical challenge to the case. In so doing, you and your attorney are indicating that any of the following was an issue in the hearing which invalidated the outcome:
· Evidence was improperly admitted or omitted
· There was a procedural irregularity
· The judge made a mistake in a point of law
As you can see, the appeal is not a stage to re-argue the facts. It is a space to argue on a technicality.
What these 3 steps have shown is that you should hire a security clearance denial attorney from the outset. Doing so, you can make a case from your response to the Statement of Reasons that could potentially support your clearance request. And where this fails, your attorney has a position they can argue which they have helped you to prepare from the beginning.
They are more equipped to support your application from start to finish. Otherwise, it makes it more difficult – and even more costly – to fight for security clearance. It also shows why a qualified and specialized security clearance denial attorney is ideal.
When should you engage a security clearance denial attorney
If you are wondering when you should engage a security clearance lawyer, we recommend that a consult for the application can be a good place to start. Or as soon as possible once you realize that you may have potential security issues. Consulting with an experienced security clearance attorney beforehand puts you in a better position to avoid a negative outcome.
Unlike civil and criminal cases, a security clearance appeal has many legal complexities and procedures that require legal input if you want a successful outcome. Hiring a security clearance denial attorney allows you to make a defensible case for yourself.
If your security clearance was revoked or you have received an LOI to deny clearance, contact Van Ackeren, P.S. We are experienced security clearance attorneys who have helped numerous military and civilian personnel successfully appeal a denial of security clearance.
So, if you have concerns about your application, are applying for clearance, or have been issued with an LOI, schedule a consultation today. You can call us at (253) 442-6700 or send us a message online.