Security Clearance and Professional License

A criminal conviction may mean hefty fines and long prison sentences, which have long-lasting effects on your life. However, if you hold a security clearance or professional license in Washington, D.C. or Virginia, you may also be at risk of losing your job if you are convicted of a crime. You need an aggressive criminal defense attorney from S.L. England, PLLC, to protect your job and your future.


A security clearance determines if a person can and will safeguard classified national security information. Top Secret is the highest level of security clearance, followed by Secret and Classified. If a person needs to know classified information, they can access it up to the level of the security clearance that they hold. 

If you have a criminal conviction and are applying for a new security clearance, a misdemeanor conviction may not disqualify you unless the crime involves alcohol, drugs, firearms, explosives, or sexual conduct. You must report all criminal convictions from the last seven years if you are applying for a Confidential or Secret security clearance, or all criminal convictions from the last ten years if you are applying for a Top Secret security clearance. The older the conviction, the less likely it is to affect your ability to obtain a security clearance.

Any person convicted of a felony cannot obtain or renew a security clearance unless you are granted a waiver due to mitigating conditions of your conviction. These conditions include:

  • Your criminal behavior and conviction are not recent.
  • Your crime was an isolated incident.
  • You were pressured or otherwise coerced into committing the crime, and those pressures are no longer a presence in your life.
  • You did not voluntarily commit the criminal act.
  • The factors leading to your commission of the criminal act are unlikely to reoccur.
  • You are acquitted.
  • Clear evidence exists that you have been rehabilitated.

Your security clearance can be suspended or revoked at any time due to an incident report or information discovered in your background check. If you are charged with a crime, you must notify your security officer, who then notifies the agency that issued your security clearance. The agency may suspend or revoke your clearance and will then notify your employer. You may lose your job.

An administrative judge may evaluate your case, and this can be in the form of a hearing or by submitting a written response. You are entitled to have an attorney represent you. The judge will evaluate all information presented and will decide to either reinstate your security clearance or revoke it. If it is revoked, you can appeal to the Appeal Board. Whatever the Appeal Board decides regarding your security clearance is final.


A professional license gives you legal permission to practice a specified occupation. Occupations that require professional licenses in Washington, D.C. and Virginia include, but are not limited to:

  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Financial Advisors
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Chiropractors
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Barbers/Cosmetologists
  • Teachers
  • Funeral Directors

Washington, D.C. law is vague about whether you will lose your professional license if you are convicted of a crime. The law states you can lose or be denied your license if the crime “bears directly on the fitness of the person to be licensed.” The law does not define “fitness” nor does it state how the licensing board should determine “fitness.” This means their decision to suspend or revoke your professional license is very subjective.

Virginia law is a bit more specific, stating that a person cannot be denied a professional license solely based on a criminal conviction unless the crime is directly related to the professional occupation. However, the licensing board can deny your license if they determine that you are unsuited or unfit.

In most cases, the licensing board will consider the nature of the crime, the extent that the criminal conviction interferes with your ability to perform your job, if you are a potential danger to your clients, and if your job provides you with the opportunity to re-offend.

You cannot legally practice your occupation while your license is suspended or revoked, which has long-lasting effects on your financial future. Professional license suspensions and revocations are public records, so potential employers and business partners may view you unfavorably. If you are facing revocation or suspension of your professional license, you need an experienced attorney to defend you against criminal charges and fight to have your professional license restored.


If your security clearance or professional license has been suspended or revoked, or if you have been charged with a crime and your security clearance or professional license is in jeopardy in Washington, D.C. or Virginia, you need an aggressive, experienced attorney from S.L. England, PLLC, to fight for you. Your livelihood and your future could be at stake. Our experienced litigators have the courtroom experience to represent you in any court. Call us today at (202) 489-0720 or contact us online.

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