Penalties for Violating a DOD Security Clearance Oath


There is not a single penalty for violating a Department of Defense (DoD) security clearance oath. Penalties depend on the nature and severity of the offense as well as whether the individual is a civilian or a member of the military.

Minor Violations

  • For minor violations of DoD security regulations, such as violations of security procedures or negligent handling of classified information, the most frequent penalty is the loss of security clearance. For more severe violations, fines may be issued and imprisonment is a possibility.

Serious Violations

  • A severe violation of DoD security, such as deliberately transferring or selling classified information, could result in charges such as conspiracy, sedition, espionage and treason. A person found guilty of these offenses could face a life sentence in prison or even multiple life sentences.

Legal Requirements

  • Note that a DoD security oath does not necessarily prevent someone from answering a summons or from answering questions related to classified or secret information if ordered by a court to do so. The court should be made aware of the sensitive nature of the information prior to any disclosure of that information.


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