Court Ordered Pretrial Intervention Programs and Security Clearances
Many security clearance applicants mistakenly believe that entering into a pretrial intervention (PTI) program with the court in order to get charges dismissed exonerates them and has no bearing on eligibility for a security clearance. This may be so in the private sector or in a criminal law context, but when it comes to federal background investigations this does not hold true. Adjudication for clearance eligibility is an administrative process based on the “whole person” concept. If there is credible information available that any reasonable and unbiased person would conclude the behavior or conduct actually occurred there need not be criminal conviction. Criminal prosecutors want to move cases quickly and more often than not offer defendants plea deals to get it off their plate. PTI programs are a popular way to accomplish this. Here is an example case:
This security clearance applicant was arrested in 2015 and charged with pornography-possession of obscene materials depicting minors (felony). He spent three weeks in jail waiting to bond out. The prosecuting attorney in the case offered the applicant the opportunity to enter into a PTI program and upon completion, would dismiss the charge. The applicant agreed to the plea deal, paid a $1,250 fine and completed the two-year PTI program, and afterwards the charges were dismissed. The applicant didn’t fully disclose the seriousness of the charge on his SF-86, leaving out the “minors” part, and continually obfuscated during various security interviews about what exactly led to the arrest.
His lack of candor about the whole situation and failure to accept responsibility for his behavior resulted in a denial of the appeal under adjudicative guidelines for Personal Conduct and Sexual Behavior. This case is a good example of what not to do when trying to overcome issues or concerns to obtain a security clearance.