Considering dating a felon? The dating world can be a minefield even when it doesn’t throw you a curveball.
It comes with a thousand questions. Is it even okay to keep dating them? What does this mean for you? How does their felony impact their lives? How might it affect your own life if you decide to keep this person in it?
While a lot of this is going to boil down to your personal relationship with your sweetheart, and you should always pay attention to relationship red flags, there are several things that apply to a relationship with a felon that you wouldn’t need to consider under any other circumstances.
So, was this person honest with you up front? How close are you to them now? What exactly did they do? These are all questions you’ll need to ask to determine if it’s wise and healthy for you to move forward. Let’s unpack them.
What Constitutes a Felony?
Your first question should be what felony this person committed. The truth is, there are a lot of stupid laws.
Just like a person can end up on a sex offender list in some states for being 18 and sleeping with their 17 year old partner or wind up in jail for peeing drunk on the side of a building in the middle of the night, you can be charged with a felony for several nonviolent reasons.
With that in mind, there’s a good chance whatever your lover did wasn’t that serious. You can be charged with a felony for the vague description of cyber crimes or for possessing too much marijuana (which is being progressively legalized in most states).
In fact, I know someone charged and convicted of a felony just for being in an area where one was taking place, even though he wasn’t taking part in it himself.
If you just found out your paramor has been convicted of a felony, what that felony was and the circumstances surrounding it are the most critical part of the conversation. Ask, find out what it was, and find out if it’s something you can live with.
The person you share your bed with is a central part of your life, someone you shape a large portion of your day around. It isn’t the same as choosing whether or not you can be friends with someone, so be honest with yourself.
Another thing to note: you can look up on the internet what the felony was. If you’re feeling uncertain about whether or not your lover will be honest with you, you still need to ask them, but you can make sure they’ve told the truth by looking them up afterward and finding out for yourself what the official record is.
If what your sweetheart did is something you can live with, and they’re comfortable talking to you about it, your next question should be whether or not you’re willing to deal with the consequences of it.
What It Means To Be Convicted of a Felony
What happens after a person is convicted of a felony depends on the state you were convicted in. Some states are harsher than others when doling out punishments.
For one thing, many states will not allow someone convicted of a felony to vote. Some states won’t allow you to get a driver’s license or a passport.
A person convicted of a felony is also often not allowed to purchase or own firearms, so having one in your home if the two of you share one could be a serious problem– one met with legal repercussions if discovered.
Being convicted of a felony often makes it harder to get work and can bar the person from being formally trained in different ways, too.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much rhyme or reason to what happens after you’re convicted of a felony. The justice system isn’t interested as much in making the punishment fit the crime as they are in dissuading people from doing anything on the list of things they have deemed “bad enough.”
The Laws in Your State
As in most situations, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself on what this means for you and for the person that you love. Did you know that in most places, it’s illegal for a felon to mingle with another felon unless given specific permission by the law?
That means that if you’ve also been convicted of a felony, you can’t get married without the state’s consent. That might sound like a bit of an overreach, especially if what you were both convicted of was nonviolent, but therein lies the danger of lumping several crimes together in the same category that don’t necessarily fit.
You want to know what is and isn’t okay for the person you love to do. If you own a gun, you want to know whether or not you’ll be able to keep it when your felon lover moves in and what happens if it’s found while they’re over at your place. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs, because not only are they not the same in every state– some of them are downright draconian compared to others.
Your first line of defense, for yourself and your lover, is to know the law.
Being in the company of a felon increases your odds of being questioned by the police, and the police are legally allowed to lie to you during an interrogation to get you to say something incriminating. Knowing that makes it easier to stay silent when you have the right to do so and lowers the odds of you being charged with something, too.
What Are You Willing To Deal With?
In any intimate relationship, it boils down to what is and isn’t a dealbreaker for you personally. Whether the thing your lover was convicted of seems stupid to you or not, there are certain realities of their situation that cannot be ignored. Look at all of those things. Look at them honestly and ask yourself if they are things you’re willing to put up with in your life.
If the answer is “no’,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up. If you care about this person enough and are willing to uproot yourself, it may mean moving states. For those who live close to a state line, this could be as simple as moving houses across a river. For others, that kind of adjustment would be much more challenging.
Take a look at your circumstances and decide what you’re willing to do to make your relationship work. Remember that you can love someone with your entire heart, but sometimes things end, and it isn’t because you didn’t care enough.
People want different things, they end up in different places in their lives, and sometimes it’s valid if you don’t want to bear the consequences of someone else’s actions– even if you think those consequences are terribly unfair.
Boundaries are important in any relationship, and at the end of the day, your life is your own. You have to decide what is on the right side of your boundaries.
Unfortunately, society often judges people at face value. If it’s common knowledge that your lover is a felon, you may face certain stereotypes, prejudgments, and maybe even some condemnation from others.
It’s worth considering if you’re ready and prepared to face that social judgment as well.
Most Felons Are Normal People
If you’ve gotten through all of that and are still feeling okay about your relationship, it’s important to remember that there isn’t anything wrong with you for that. Your love is still the same person they were before this came up, and they still deserve love and compassion.
If you found out the person you love committed a felony and your first response was immediate righteous anger, without taking the time to consider what that might have been or what your partner is going through because of it, it might be time to end things not because they committed a crime but because they need someone who is willing to give them patience and compassion. If you can’t do that, then removing yourself from the equation might be what’s best for them.
If you can, however, and if you’re OK living with the consequences of your loved one’s criminal record, there’s no reason everything can’t be okay between you. There’s nothing wrong with you for loving a felon.
Sometimes life throws you curveballs, and being in love with someone who has committed crimes can be one hell of a curveball. The important thing is to stay calm and make sure to get all of the facts before you make any decisions. Arming yourself with proper information is the first step to a happy life.
Knowing what you want is critical, and knowing what you are willing to deal with is doubly so. Square things with yourself first, and then square them with your lover.
If you decide to continue with the relationship anyway, then more power to you, and I wish you all the best going forward. As in every situation, communication is key, and honesty is kindness.