Listing Criminal Charges with Adjudication Withheld on Your SF-86
A common mistake security clearance applicants make is in thinking that criminal charges filed against them resulting in the judge withholding adjudication do not have to be reported. This is not true, regardless of what advice a recruiter, friend, or solicitor may tell you. What does adjudication withheld actually mean? Basically, it is a special authority given to judges who can withhold adjudication in criminal matters where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the charge. In turn the judge, after imposing conditions like probation or pretrial diversion which must be successfully completed, can then drop or dismiss the charges. Several states have statues that allow defendants who have committed offenses where adjudication was withheld to deny having had criminal convictions on job applications. However, this does not apply under Federal guidelines. Government agencies have embedded provisions within their employment regulations, which specifically indicate that a plea and a judgment, regardless of whether adjudication was withheld or not, is considered a conviction and may subject an employee to sanctions including termination.
Completing the Criminal Record Section of Your Sf-86
The language for the questions under the Police Record section on the SF-86 is pretty self-explanatory and don’t leave any room for misinterpretation, and yet numerous applicants still leave off a criminal charge because they think that because adjudication was withheld it is not required to be listed. The adjudicative guidelines are pretty clear on this matter and state that the deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant facts from any personnel security questionnaire or similar form used to conduct investigations is disqualifying and will normally result in an unfavorable clearance decision. My advice, as always, is to read each question carefully so you understand what is being asked, and err on the side of caution by providing full disclosure.