Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

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desertlawstudent
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Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby desertlawstudent » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:10 pm

So here is the situation:

I did fantastic in my 1L fall (3.9+GPA at a tier 1 school). I have applied and will interview with the USAO Criminal Division. On their application they note that you have to pass a strict federal clearance background check.

Back in Undergrad I was a dumbass. At age 20 while in a frat I received 2 MIP's within a month and a third MIP on spring break in my home town. I am now almost 27, and have had no drinking violations since.

On top of that, a friend of mine who graduated undergrad a semester before me (Dec 10 vs. May 11) gave me a parking pass he had for a lot near my undergrad building.

Being stupid I used the pass, and was cited with a "theft of services" ticket which I didn't fight, I just paid the fine.

"Theft of Services" sounds awful. the three Minor in Possession Tickets sound awful.

Will I fail a DOJ background check for the USAO?

Extremely Nervous here haha.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby ScottRiqui » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:15 pm

desertlawstudent wrote:So here is the situation:

I did fantastic in my 1L fall (3.9+GPA at a tier 1 school). I have applied and will interview with the USAO Criminal Division. On their application they note that you have to pass a strict federal clearance background check.

Back in Undergrad I was a dumbass. At age 20 while in a frat I received 2 MIP's within a month and a third MIP on spring break in my home town. I am now almost 27, and have had no drinking violations since.

On top of that, a friend of mine who graduated undergrad a semester before me (Dec 10 vs. May 11) gave me a parking pass he had for a lot near my undergrad building.

Being stupid I used the pass, and was cited with a "theft of services" ticket which I didn't fight, I just paid the fine.

"Theft of Services" sounds awful. the three Minor in Possession Tickets sound awful.

Will I fail a DOJ background check for the USAO?

Extremely Nervous here haha.


In the grand scheme of things, those are *nothing* as far as violations go. The only way they'll bite you is if you don't disclose them and the DoJ finds out about them in the course of their investigation.

My relevant experience is with the DoD rather than the DoJ, but I personally know people with *much* sketchier records who have held high-level security clearances for years with no issues.

desertlawstudent
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby desertlawstudent » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:30 pm

Awesome.

It's a tough position to be in, because if I get the USAO position I have to accept within 24 hours, and start the background check. I am also forced to drop all other summer opportunities, including interviews with a state Chief Justice, one Federal Court of Appeals Judge and several Federal District Judges.

The USAO is definitely my first choice, because I can get all of the Judge work (assuming grades stay high) in the fall and spring semesters of my 2L year. But it seems risky to bail on those other opportunities if I may fail the background check.

I appreciate the help.

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SemperLegal
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby SemperLegal » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:35 pm

If it is a federal security clearance adjudication, you should disclose and have zero doubts you will pass. I know friends with Top Security clearances with convictions for felony distribution of controlled substances. Just tell the truth.

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UnicornHunter
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby UnicornHunter » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:48 pm

SemperLegal wrote:If it is a federal security clearance adjudication, you should disclose and have zero doubts you will pass. I know friends with Top Security clearances with convictions for felony distribution of controlled substances. Just tell the truth.
ScottRiqui wrote:
In the grand scheme of things, those are *nothing* as far as violations go. The only way they'll bite you is if you don't disclose them and the DoJ finds out about them in the course of their investigation.

My relevant experience is with the DoD rather than the DoJ, but I personally know people with *much* sketchier records who have held high-level security clearances for years with no issues.



+1

desertlawstudent
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby desertlawstudent » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:24 pm

Got it. Honesty is the best policy.

I feel quite a bit better now.

Thanks for the advice guys!

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BVest
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby BVest » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:53 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if DOJ doesn't know about things this simple (and publicly recorded) before they even interview. A very quick search can give them this info and save them the time of interviewing if there were actually a conviction that would definitely be a problem. (Not to say you don't have to disclose).

desertlawstudent
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby desertlawstudent » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:05 pm

BVest wrote:I wouldn't be surprised if DOJ doesn't know about things this simple (and publicly recorded) before they even interview. A very quick search can give them this info and save them the time of interviewing if there were actually a conviction that would definitely be a problem. (Not to say you don't have to disclose).


Just to be clear, I pleaded no contest to all three MIP's and the "Theft of Services" ticket. They are certainly convictions (as a no contest plea has the effect of a guilty plea).

They have also already set the interview, but they do not do background checks until after they select the candidates.

**edit** My mistake. I read your post with a period in between "...save them the time of interviewing" and "If there were actually a conviction..."

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gdane
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby gdane » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:56 pm

Just disclose everything. You'll be fine. This is only a provisional clearance anyway. Hence why the check only takes roughly two months. The full clearance takes upwards of six months to conduct.

Anonymous User
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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:13 am

BVest wrote:I wouldn't be surprised if DOJ doesn't know about things this simple (and publicly recorded) before they even interview. A very quick search can give them this info and save them the time of interviewing if there were actually a conviction that would definitely be a problem. (Not to say you don't have to disclose).


As a guy who used to interview and hire for the DOJ, there is absolutely zero chance that the DOJ knows about anything in your record other than what you have in your resume. Moreover, the USAO won't have access to the databases required to run such checks. (Even if they did, you're not allowed to use them to search for job applicants, not that you'd have enough info to run a job applicant anyway.)

As to the topic at hand, the DOJ is required by law to give you two weeks to make a decision on a job offer (yes, even unpaid volunteer appointments); they can informally ask you to make a decision in 24 hours, but they can't make you do it.

More generally, the standard for a clearance waiver is something like prima facie eligibility; things that wouldn't pose any kind of issue for a full clearance can—somewhat counterintuitively—be much more of an issue for it. You're probably going to have to get full records of conviction on all of your convictions, and the person hiring you will likely have to include a letter with your clearance packet saying how you'd be an asset to the agency, etc. Further, someone is going to have to put their own clearance on the line to sign off on your getting a waiver; thus, whether you get the clearance waiver or not would depend less upon the background check in DC (which would likely be routine, assuming you disclose everything), and more on how much time a single individual (who probably isn't the person interviewing you) wants to spend talking to the clearance people and filling out paperwork.

You're likely okay, but it very much depends on who is the final signature on the waiver form, and there are some (rare) higher-ups who simply won't sign off on stuff like this. It's much less of a shoo-in than the rest of the folks in this topic seem to be saying it is (think 75-80%).

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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:You're likely okay, but it very much depends on who is the final signature on the waiver form, and there are some (rare) higher-ups who simply won't sign off on stuff like this. It's much less of a shoo-in than the rest of the folks in this topic seem to be saying it is (think 75-80%).


Agreed. I have experience failing background checks at the USAO summer intern level and then passing them at main DoJ. Merely being eligible for clearance doesn't mean that someone is going to take the time and effort to make sure you do once it isn't an automatic acceptance.

OP: feel free to PM me if you want; I was in a very similar position last year and may be able to offer some advice.

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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:04 pm

As others have said, you're probably fine. Make sure you don't have any other skeleteons, though. For example, I was offered a similar position and have a similar criminal history. I wasn't worried about those minor convictions, but I was worried what they would find out if they kept digging by talking to old acquaintances and stuff. They will want your addresses for past 5 years or so and will contact ppl who knew you at those addresses. Think hard about if anyone is going to be able to mention those late nights where you blared techno music and blew lines w/ strippers. Or whatever.

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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:25 pm

OP, I was similarly worried about my USAO background check for my summer internship -- I had a post-grad public intoxication arrest -- and everything worked out alright for me. Everyone who has said honesty is the best policy is absolutely correct. And I also agree with those who have said you will probably be fine.

If you do get an offer, DOJ has a number that you can call anonymously to discuss any concerns you have about the background check. You actually get to talk to the people in Main DOJ that conduct the background checks, and you can explain your situation to them fully. They may not be able to give you a firm yes or no, but they'll at least give you a better sense of what your odds are. They understand the situation you would be in if you accept the job only to find out at the beginning of the summer that you've failed the background check, and I'm sure they would let you know if they think you're unlikely to get clearance. You can wait until you hear back from them before deciding whether to accept the offer. This is what I did last year, and they expedited an office meeting to discuss my case so that they could give me an answer before I had to decide whether to accept the job.*

*NB: They had to expedite the meeting not because the USAO was rushing me to accept but because I had another offer that was about to expire. The poster above is right: DOJ doesn't give out exploding 24-hour offers. They'll almost certainly give you at least a week or two to decide.

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Re: Will I pass a DoJ Background check?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:49 am

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