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Your Turn: “I’m Falling in Love with a Felon”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I am currently dating and falling in love with a felon. He is funny, cute, smart, and we get along together like peanut butter and jelly. Unfortunately, he has told me he has a bad record. He is a felon with not just one, but four felonies, one being serious, plus multiple misdemeanors. This is the second guy I have fallen for with a criminal background and I don’t know how I should handle it. He is currently attending school to be a veterinary technician and said he is able to get a job in that field regardless of his background, but I am not convinced. I’m worried about our future together. I love everything about him, but I know already my friends and family will not accept him with this background and they would tell me I need to get out of this toxic relationship. Should I stay for the long haul and jump the hurdles with him or flee and never look back? — Felon in Love
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avatar TECH March 7, 2012, 9:16 am

The big detail you left out in your letter is, what crimes was he convicted of? How long ago were they? Has he you given you explanations for why he committed the crimes, and is it something he’s worked through?
I have experience dating someone with a criminal background. In his late teens and early twenties, he had (relatively) minor offenses like domestic assault, etc and had an issue with drugs. I thought (or maybe wanted to convince myself) that this was something he had worked through. Needless to say we broke up, and out of curiousity, I looked his name up recently and his criminal record got out of control after we broke up — several felonies.
Of course, my experience is not your experience. But the bottom line is this, people with criminal records (especially felonies) have blatant disrespect for other people and their communities. I’m afraid his disrespect might translate to you sooner rather than later.
You also mentioned in your letter that this is the second man you’ve fallen in love with who has a criminal record. It’s worth examining why! Why are you drawn to men with bad pasts, men who may need your help? This relationship is still new. The basic question you asked is, should you stay or should you go? And Letter Writer, I think you should go. Try to get to the root of why you fall in love with “bad boys” and then find someone you can trust.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 9:21 am

“minor offenses like domestic assault”

Really?

Lili Lili March 7, 2012, 1:09 pm

THIS. Exactly my response after reading this letter. Seriously, even if its not what we are all thinking (him beating his GF) its still not minor that he resorted to violence.

avatar GatorGirl March 7, 2012, 9:21 am

I don’t know that I would classify domestic assult as a minor offense…

avatar bethany March 7, 2012, 9:44 am

Maybe it was something like getting into a fight with your brother over a football game and someone called the cops. Not all somestic assault has to be violence against women, does it?

(not really sure why I’m defending assault… but just thought it shoudl be noted)

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 9:52 am

Could be he pushed his grandpa down the stairs too…just sayin’

avatar GatorGirl March 7, 2012, 10:27 am

I agree- it could be any number of things. But getting in a physical altercation with anyone, male or female, that results in the cops being called AND getting a conviction is not okay in my book. I don’t care what the reason is…physical violence is not acceptable in any situation.

avatar rolling eyeballs March 8, 2012, 11:05 am

“I don’t care what the reason is…physical violence is not acceptable in any situation. ”

Defending yourself. Defending your child. Defending your nation. Etc.

Skyblossom Skyblossom March 7, 2012, 10:49 am

I’d have to ask where she hangs out that she meets felons? I think she needs to find new places to go and new people to see.

avatar cporoski March 7, 2012, 12:14 pm

I don’t think you can catagorically say that criminal records mean blatant disrespct for other people and communities. Some things that are illegal aren’t always immoral. Like we said above, she hasn’t said the crimes.

avatar vizslalvr March 7, 2012, 2:47 pm

In every situation I’ve seen (many), for a domestic violence incident to be deemed a felony, the person either a) has a misdemeanor history of DV that counts as priors or b) the incident was in fact SERIOUS.

FireStar FireStar March 7, 2012, 9:19 am

Colour me crazy but if it is a felony then it is serious – which means all four are serious. Lord only knows where you are drawing the line to make one really serious. You know that being with him means a potential life time of restrictions – what you can and can’t do – maybe where you can or can’t live. You know your family and friends will not accept him. You know that he is capable of whatever those four felonies total up to – and that he repeat offends. It’s troubling that you find yourself with your second criminal love interest – why is that? Maybe some time with a therapist to understand that would be key before you make up your mind. Ultimately the choice is yours – go in with eyes wide open. But if you are asking if it a good idea? The answer does not sound like yes.

avatar jaybro March 7, 2012, 12:17 pm

I definitely second the seeing the therapist in order to understand her attraction to the bad boys. Understanding why she’s drawn to a person like that would help her make the decision of if she should stick it through or just MOA.

avatar britannia March 7, 2012, 2:04 pm

You’re making the assumption that she is always attracted to bad boys. That could very well NOT be the case; it sounds like this guy is the first felon she has wanted to date.

avatar britannia March 7, 2012, 2:12 pm

I just re-read that it’s her second one, but this does not constitute a pattern. Maybe she lives in an area where there is a high concentration of felons; maybe she just, on an off chance, really has met two very nice guys who happen to have priors.

avatar AndreaMarie March 7, 2012, 3:18 pm

I thought the same thing. It’s not like he got busted with some weed. Felons include assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, rape/attempted rape, murder/attempted murder…yikes…

avatar MarkD March 9, 2012, 11:55 am

Is this felony distribution of copyrighted material? The felony of lying to a Federal Agent? Contempt of Congress? A convicted sex offender – as in a 19 year old with a 17 year old?

Or are we talking drug dealing, grand larceny, assault, pedophilia, rape or things that are universally agreed to be serious crimes?

It’s probably not worth the pain to be involved with someone who is going to have serious problems his entire life, even if the felonies were of the first sort above. (If you’re not guilty of contempt of Congress in the less formal sense, then you’re not paying attention, but I digress.) If they are the second sort (serious felonies?) you had best run, fast and far. This time it won’t be different. It never is.

leilani leilani March 7, 2012, 9:25 am

Personally, I would not want to sign up for this unless the connection I felt with the guy was crazy amazing–like, a once-in-a-lifetime type thing. This could really hinder future opportunities and make life a lot harder than it needs to be.
But aside from that, I would worry about what the fact that he has committed multiple felonies says about his character. I definitely don’t think that committing a crime makes you a bad person, or that you can’t learn from your mistakes. At the same time, for me it would depend on what the crimes he committed were, why he committed them, and what was stopping him from doing the same thing in the future.

avatar MissDre March 7, 2012, 9:29 am

I think a lot of LWs feel like their connection with someone is a “crazy amazing-like, once-in-a-lifetime type thing” otherwise they wouldn’t stick around when this person does something incredibly stupid and/or disrespectful.

avatar Nadine March 7, 2012, 9:48 am

I agree.

leilani leilani March 7, 2012, 9:57 am

I agree. I was just trying to express that for me, this would be a dealbreaker from the beginning. Someone would have to be pretttttty special for me to even begin to second-guess that.

Jessibel5 Jessibel March 7, 2012, 12:25 pm

Yeah, and the thing about “crazy amazing-like, once in a lifetime” type connections is that often they happen more than once.

avatar kerrycontrary March 7, 2012, 9:25 am

1) Please read the essay from last week about being married to someone in prison, because that most likely will be you if you marry this guy. Especially because they are felonies. And it won’t be for a couple of years. It will be for a long, long, time. Everyone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought after 3 felonies you got life in prison?

2) Repeat after me: I can find someone who I love, and loves me, that does not have a criminal record.

3) If these felonies are for violent crimes you need to run now.

avatar camille905 March 7, 2012, 9:38 am

It depends on what state you live in on how many felonies get you life in prison. I think California has a “3 strikes” rule. I’m not sure about others.

avatar savannah March 7, 2012, 9:47 am

wiki says about half- 24 states have these 3 strikes rules but some of them count only violent felonies, while others count all felonies.

avatar cporoski March 7, 2012, 12:17 pm

But then NJ does not have a different between felonies of misdemenors. it is in categories.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 9:28 am

How is a guy with a record like this on the street?
I had to look up felonies, to be sure what exactly that encompassed (I don´t live in the US). The only one I found that I might be OK living with is vandalism of a federal building. The others? No chance.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 9:37 am

What are you saying JK? Its ok to just spray paint your name all over the White House? What kind of a person are you? :)

JK JK March 7, 2012, 9:38 am

A filthy foreign person!!!!

rainbow rainbow March 7, 2012, 11:31 am

I looked it up too. Four counts of vandalism of a federal building sounds pretty sexy to me (bring on the punky terrorists!), but in any other case I think this is a very bad idea.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 11:32 am

Maybe argies are just into anarchy :D

Caris Caris March 7, 2012, 8:01 pm

yes, yes we are :D

avatar Guy Friday March 7, 2012, 11:54 am

To respond to you (and to other people who are taken aback by the four felonies), I suspect if you try to look up felonies, you’re only going to see crimes where the BASELINE is as a felony. But most crimes aren’t like that; there are gradients where it’s a higher or lower crime based on certain elements (ex: theft, where the class of the crime is dependent on the value of items taken). And, most importantly, there are many crimes for which the first offense is a traffic ticket, while the second offense is a misdemeanor, and the third is a felony. So the fact that he has four felonies isn’t necessarily indicative of a lifetime criminal, because a lot of it is going to depend on the context of these crimes (i.e., when, what, and how)

I don’t think I have to illustrate examples of situations where it’s a serious problem; you guys have used your imaginations well thus far :-) So let me give an example where the context may indicate it isn’t as serious an issue in the present as the vagueness of the original letter might lead you to believe. Keep in mind that in Wisconsin possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense the first time, and a felony offense any additional time:
-Kid gets caught at 17 (which is the youngest age here where you can charge straight up as an adult) with a bong and a baggie of weed.
Kid gets charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of THC. Pleads to both, goes to treatment while the case is pending, gets a fine.
-About a year or two later (we’ll say 20-21 years old), he gets caught again with marijuana, but this time he also has some oxycodone.
-Now he’s charged with Possession of THC with a 2nd and Subsequent penalty enhancer (a felony) and Possession of a Schedule I/II Narcotic (felony). Court orders him to go to a monitoring service for random urine screens while out on bail.
-Since he’s basically being asked to quit cold turkey because he hasn’t been sentenced yet and the Court’s not giving him treatment services, he comes in to monitoring one day after smoking pot and tests positive for THC. The kid admits to having had a bit of marijuana that morning, and openly admits to having a little baggie and a pipe in his pocket. Monitoring service confiscates it, and immediately takes him before the judge (and, yes, that’s what really happens where I practice.)
-Kid stands up before the Court and admits he really screwed up, but begs the Court not to lock him up right away. Court can tell the kid’s sincere, so it raises his cash bail, orders him to show proof of regular attendance at a drug treatment program in return for not being locked up until the end of the case. DA charges a new case against him for Felony Bail Jumping (felony), Possession of THC – 2nd and Subsequent (felony), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
-Kid takes it VERY seriously, and goes to serious treatment, really gets a good handle on his addiction, tests clean for the pendency of the cases, which all get resolved together. DA refuses to accept dropping any of the felony cases because he’s pissed that the kid tested dirty while out on bail, so he makes him plead to all of them, but drops the misdemeanor paraphernalia charge.
-Kid’s still young, made a major life change, and only has the two misdemeanors on his record, so the judge gives him a lengthy prison sentence imposed and stayed for a long period of probation (4-5 years) with 6-9 months of upfront jail time as a punishment. Kid serves his condition time, gets out, and continues to keep a handle on his sobriety, is a model probationee, and completes probation without a hitch.

In that scenario, by the time he turned 23 or so, he’d have 4 felonies and 2 misdemeanors on his record. But by the time he turned 27 or 28, he’d be off probation, been sober for almost 6 years, and could argue that he wasn’t the same man he was when he got those felonies. Would his addiction be something the LW should be concerned about? Sure, the same way you should be concerned about any addiction. But if that was what happened — and that did in fact happen to a guy I represented — would anyone here say that the LW should without hesitation MOA because he clearly isn’t worth being with?

Granted, that’s one example without any knowledge of what his felonies are and what they relate to. I’m just making the point that the fact that he’s a felon isn’t as indicative of future failure as some might think.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 12:02 pm

Thanks for the clarification! As one of the few non lawyers (and non US citizens) on here it helps a lot!!!
That does show a completely different scenario than the murdering, pillaging thug I´d imagined! :)
But, maybe like someone pointed out below, LW didn´t clarify the felonies for us to not tell her to MOA immediately.

avatar cporoski March 7, 2012, 12:49 pm

My last employer did background checks and I would see all sorts of extra charges happen. I once saw a guy who tried to out run a cop when speeding. He was stupid and 17 BTW. He was charged with felonies for evading police. Then there were all these other charges because he resisted arrest like “terroristic threats” which he told the cop to f* off. There were no guns or drugs in the car but he had like 6 different charges against him for essentially thinking he was in dukes of hazzard.

avatar cporoski March 7, 2012, 12:19 pm

Felony drug possession isn’t that big of a deal. Most the criminals in jail are non violent.

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 9:29 am

Wayyyyy too many details are left out of this letter. Like, what did he do, when, and why? I’m assuming the convictions don’t all relate to peaceful protests or trespassing to save a dog trapped in a burning house on … But your answers to those questions *could* excuse a conviction… but four felonies plus multiple misdemeanors? This guy doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 9:37 am

I have to assume that since she left them out, they are pretty severe and she knew we’d give an auto-MOA because of them.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2012, 10:12 am

Exactly my thoughts. Listen LW, everyone loves a project. But paint your bedroom, it can be done in a day and won’t end up in jail.

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 10:31 am

Will you come paint my room, Iwanna? I hate painting. I like the smell of paint, though. And glue and playdoh. They should make playdoh-scented candles. Mmmmm.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 10:34 am

MMM, playdoh.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2012, 10:35 am

I love painting. I’m painting my bedroom this weekend actually. I love the smell. And I love the blue lining tape you put up. And oh the smell. Amazing. This is just one of the home improvement projects I’m taking on now that I’m unemployed. You know? It’s not that bad. I get to go to yoga all the time, run outside, paint, refinish coffee tables, make lists – pretty much all of my favorite things I’ve been avoiding for 3 years.

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 10:39 am

That sounds poyfect! You could also spend a lot of time at Whole Foods and go to town on the samples!!!! That’s what I would do. Hell, I do that now.

iwannatalktosampson Iwannatalktosampson March 7, 2012, 10:44 am

Oh man that’s such a good idea, why haven’t I thought of that? I need to go there anyway for some vitamins. What a great lunch idea!

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 10:52 am

Here’s my wise advice: First, swing by the bakery section and take one (or eight) samples of bread. Next, head over to the cheeses (chice? choose? or just cheese?) and fit as many of those cubes of cheese as you can on the toothpick (or eight toothpicks). Finally, go park your ass in the chip isle that is oddly always vacant (stupid health nuts). When you’re done eating, you can buy and eat an entire bag of chips without gaining weight since they’re Whole Food chips. (Right???)

Caris Caris March 7, 2012, 8:11 pm

lol. id totally get more than 8 pieces of cheese btw

kare Kare March 8, 2012, 12:52 am

Demeter has Playdoh scented perfume. I think they have paint too.

avatar britannia March 7, 2012, 2:11 pm

Uhhh… NO. Since he has multiple arrests, it would have been VERY tedious to write them all out, and everyone would have nitpicked them anyways. Obviously she considers them not-heinous enough to consider dating him, and that’s all that matters. None of us are the “Moral Police” who get to decide what she should consider to be okay or not. Also, he has already served his time. According to the penal system, he now deserves a second chance at life.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 2:24 pm

Obiously she does NOT know whether or not they are heinous enough which is why she wrote this letter! The letter itself was a tedious act, so adding a couple more words like murder, sold drugs or child molester is not asking for too much more.

Why do you have to write with such a bitchy tone (the UHHHHH, NO)? I get you are defensive about this because you say you dated a former felon, but do you honestly think what crimes he committed won’t make a difference in providing a good answer for the LW?!?!

avatar britannia March 7, 2012, 2:34 pm

Obviously she does know. If she doesn’t, she would have said so. And obviously she considers the crimes to be acceptable, because otherwise she wouldn’t be entertaining the idea at all. You’re going directly to “worst case scenario” type convictions instead of opening up to the possibility that there are hundreds of other things this guy could have been put into prison for. 3 to 100’s? I’m betting it’s something NOT so heinous as murder or molestation.

I’m not defensive about it because I dated a felon – which, by the way, I stopped doing because I didn’t consider the additional burdens to trump the love we had. I’m defensive of this person because I know what it’s like to be dating a guy who has actually reformed himself, yet is constantly beaten down by a society made up of pitckfork-wielding, close-minded people. He served his time and from the limited information we have, has been a law-abiding member of society since he got out. Yes, that’s something a convicted felon can do. Any person, as long as they’re not mentally insane, can reform and do a 180*. But if there is the constant knocking-down, redundant chastising, and blind un-acceptance as you are demonstrating, this guy is never going to have the chance to be a productive member of society.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 2:40 pm

I don’t need you to explain that people can redeem themselves. Thanks though.
I guessed that she didn’t share them because they are pretty bad ones. No where in that did I demostrate the BS you are spewing at me.
And maybe you want to actually read the letter to see that she is UNSURE of whether she wants to date a felon! Ughhh.

avatar britannia March 7, 2012, 2:45 pm

Evidently you do, since you’re so unwilling to look beyond his priors. He served his time, therefore he is supposed to get a second chance. That’s what justice and forgiveness is all about.

To her, his past is not an MOA type of thing. From how I read it, she’s far more concerned about how society is going to make things difficult for them to be in a relationship. A problem which you are perpetuating by blindly assuming that a convicted felon is probably a child molester (to put it in a nutshell).

She said that she is dating and falling in love with him. That’s pretty indicative that she’s not just starting out in this relationship.

It seems to be that our methods of reading comprehension are quite different. Hopefully the LW will come back and clarify things for everyone.

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 2:50 pm

Hey read about my green yoga bag!

JK JK March 7, 2012, 2:52 pm

All the cool kids are doing it. :D

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 2:56 pm

As a kid when I would see/hear my parents arguing it would make me so upset that I’d put on a tutu or something funny and go dance around them and then in-between them to try to break it up … it would usually end with my dad yelling at me to go outside and play. (It never quite worked.) I feel like that now.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 3:02 pm

Aww AP that made me sad.
It also reminded me of my parents making me practice the flute outside. :(

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 2:41 pm

Yes, but have you been following the adventures of my green yoga bag at facebook.com/GreenYogaBag? That is the real question.

(I’m so good at mediation, aren’t I?)

avatar Addie Pray March 7, 2012, 2:45 pm

And silence. See how effective I was at resolving that dispute? I’m going to look into a career as a mediator.

Lili Lili March 7, 2012, 2:59 pm

I just Liked it!

Caris Caris March 7, 2012, 8:17 pm

Remember the letter where this woman was wondering if she should leave her husband after finding out he was watching child-porn? Apparently for that LW it was not a deal-breaker that her husband was watching child-porn.

“Obviously she considers them not-heinous enough to consider dating him, and that’s all that matters.”

Given what I wrote above, I am not sure if that’s all that matters.

avatar Fabelle March 7, 2012, 9:30 am

Well, first, what are the felonies? I understand not wanting to go into detail, but people have different ideas of what “serious” is. I’d be less concerned with a minor drug charge than some kind of assault, for example, but maybe others feel differently? Also, it matters if these issues are settled already or if there’s still some kind of court battle going on. If they’ve all been resolved one way or another, maybe he could look into getting his record expunged (not a lawyer, in any way, so hopefully others will chime in here…)

“He is currently attending school to be a veterinary technician and said he is able to get a job in that field regardless of his background, but I am not convinced.”

What are you not convinced of? Do you suspect he’s lying, or do you think he’s just being a little too optimistic? If it’s the latter, I’d do a bit of your own research & see if you should be worrying about his future potential to be employed or not. However, if you think he’s lying(about being in school, his desire or ability to get a job, or anything else) then your relationship has more problems than his past felonies.

“…friends and family will not accept him with this background and they would tell me I need to get out of this toxic relationship” Do YOU think the relationship is “toxic”? And if so, is it just because of his criminal background or is he still behaving like a criminal? How does he treat you? A relationship isn’t toxic just because one party in it is a felon.

HOWEVER– because I realize that might sound flippant?– even if his transgressions are all in the past, there are various ways they can come creeping up to affect both him & you. There’s not enough information in your letter for me to say if you should stay or flee– but you do need to consider all of that and weigh it against how good you think the relationship is.

avatar ReginaRey March 7, 2012, 9:30 am

I’m kind of fixated on the part where you said this is the second guy you’ve fallen for who has a criminal background. Is this a coincidence? A self-respect issue where you don’t feel that you’re “worthy” of more from a boyfriend? Are you enticed by “bad boys?”

I don’t mean to pigeonhole you, but I’m just curious as to how you’ve fallen for multiple felons in your lifetime. I can’t say that I’ve knowingly spent any length of time with a serious felon…so where do you meet them?

Listen, I’m not saying a relationship with someone who has a criminal background can’t work out (HoneyBeeNicki, where you at girl?! – This LW needs your advice!), but there are a significant amount of questions to ask yourselves, as well as obstacles to overcome, in order to have a healthy, solid relationship with a past felon.

Such as…has he made significant strides to change his criminal patterns? (like rehabilitation, therapy/counseling, etc). Does he understand that his past crimes were wrong? Is he sufficiently regretful? Does he display any tendencies that make you wary that he could repeat offend? Has he removed himself from friends/associations/situations that were a negative influence on him? What limitations will he always have (work related, travel related, insurance related, financially, etc) due to his past as a criminal?

If this guy is completely, 100% dedicated to leading a changed life, then I don’t think this relationship has to end. But know that there will always and forever be limitations to your relationship that a relationship with a non-felon wouldn’t have — including everything I mentioned, and yes, the way your friends and family treat and view him.

Bottom line — If both of you aren’t ready or willing to conquer all of those challenges together; if you aren’t able to communicate with each other VERY well; if you have doubts about your ability to deal with all of the unique issues you’re going to face (as well as the day-to-day relationship issues!); and if he repeat offends or isn’t putting in the kind of effort you think you need to see…then I think this is a MOA situation.

And either way, I think it would be a good idea for you to explore why you’ve fallen for two criminals in your life. There’s something there — maybe childhood experience; maybe a lack of confidence; maybe a penchant for deviant behavior — that’s worth getting to the bottom of.

avatar Guy Friday March 7, 2012, 11:26 am

This is more a general response than one to RR specifically, but you covered a lot of the same things others have, so I figured I’d reply to yours. No offense intended :-) Anyway, people keep saying “all these limitations he has”, but I’m not sure what limitations people think actually exist on felons. I’m not going to speak for every state, but in Wisconsin having a felony on your record (or a domestic violence misdemeanor) means you can’t have a firearm. If it’s a violent felony, it’s a firearm and body armor. If you’re still on parole, you can’t vote. And, yes, there are some jobs, depending on the type of felony, that won’t hire you. Other than that? No limitations. And, honestly, while I respect that some people like hunting or target shooting or REALLY want to date a guy with a certain job, I’m not sure I’d consider not being able to own guns or work certain jobs as a serious limitation of any kind.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 11:42 am

Body armor? WTF

avatar Guy Friday March 7, 2012, 12:05 pm

Well, Kevlar vests and such. I wouldn’t even know where to buy them, frankly. But to be fair, if you’re the kind of person that’s going to run in a gang / flash guns / deal drugs, wouldn’t you wear a vest to protect against drive-bys and whatnot?

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 12:12 pm

I suppose yes, it’d be a big deal if you were a gang member to not be able to have thhose. But, then again, you are a gang member so I’m guessing you don’t really care if you are not following the law by having one.

Another thought-are “we” hoping they get killed? What is the point of not allowing someone to be safe from gunshots? Weird.

avatar Guy Friday March 7, 2012, 12:19 pm

Well, I interpreted your “Body Armor? WTF” as “why would any non-cop buy body armor?”. Hence my response. I suspect the logic behind the Wisconsin legislature making that a prohibition for violent felonies (which I understand to be felony-level batteries — i.e., those that cause broken bones or require stitches or surgery — armed robberies, rapes, and murders) is that those who would do that are arguably those who are likely to take on cops as well, and they need to protect cops if this kind of guy starts running at them with a weapon or does something that justifies law enforcement taking a shot at them.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 12:36 pm

No, no your interpretation was correct. I was not thinking of gang members.
Your furher explanation makes it much more logical to me.

avatar cporoski March 7, 2012, 12:22 pm

I know people with charges that get jobs just fine and can still get a passport. If it was really bad, he would still be in jail.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 12:37 pm

Eh, I wouldn’t agree totally with that logic of they’d still bein jail if it were that bad. How many times to we read the paper and see child molesters sentenced to barely any time.

avatar Krissy March 7, 2012, 12:38 pm

I have a family member with a felony conviction on her record for a white collar crime. Besides the one conviction she had a 25 year career in the medical field and was a successful single parent of two kids. The only job she has been able to find in 6 years is pizza delivery. The only reason for that is the felony. I’d say that it has had a very limiting effect on her life. I guess it really depends on the circumstances…

kare Kare March 8, 2012, 1:12 am

Where I live felons cannot vote, own firearms, have difficulties finding jobs, and difficulties finding apartments. Some colleges will not admit students based on criminal history and felons cannot receive certain professional licenses. Of course that might not matter to the LW, but personally the huge amount of uncertainty would be a deal-breaker for me.

rainbow rainbow March 7, 2012, 11:41 am

“so where do you meet them?”

Maybe she lives in a very bad neighborhood? It would explain the fact that she doesn’t consider it so serious.

avatar Fabelle March 7, 2012, 2:48 pm

That’s exactly what I was thinking, I know a lot of people have been dropping “Where the hell does this girl hang out” into their responses– it’s easy to run into felons if you live in a not-so-nice areas.

avatar Fabelle March 7, 2012, 2:48 pm

That’s exactly what I was thinking, I know a lot of people have been dropping “Where the hell does this girl hang out” into their responses– it’s easy to run into felons if you live in a not-so-nice area.

avatar Fabelle March 7, 2012, 2:50 pm

Sorry for the double-post! Also, to clarify, by “run into” I mean, meet through friends, at your local bar, night classes, and/or other normal places. Not say, getting car-jacked and deciding to go on a date with the dude, which is what I feel like some people might imagine..

avatar SpyGlassez March 7, 2012, 6:58 pm

I teach at a community college in a smaller city in Iowa. In my business writing class, I have had SEVERAL former inmates (usually drug-related or theft) who are really trying to now make something of themselves. She doesn’t have to be in a “bad” area – just a more economically impoverished one.

Budj Budj March 7, 2012, 9:33 am

I need to know when, what, how, and why. I don’t like to judge someone based solely on the fact that they have a criminal record as I do believe that some people can mend their ways, but you left out way too much information for me not to say anything. Generally situations like these do not sound worth all the baggage. You can find men with all those qualities sans a criminal record. If you would care to elaborate though in an update or in the thread maybe we can get more specific to your situation.

CatsMeow CatsMeow March 7, 2012, 11:27 am

Yup. I have WAY too many questions. How long have they been together? What exactly were the crimes, and how long ago did he commit them? Is he an addict? Is he on probation or parole? Is he likely to repeat offend? And to the LW – how much are you really willing to put up with? I know that for me, it would be more hassle than it’s worth. But that’s just me.

avatar Flake March 7, 2012, 9:34 am

Move on now.

avatar silver_dragon_girl March 7, 2012, 9:38 am

Where are you meeting these guys with criminal backgrounds? I think you should probably stop going there.

Listen, LW, like I said on the “Craigslist” thread last night…it’s really, really hard for me to issue a blanket “MOA” to someone. To me, if you really love or care for someone, it’s always worth trying to work out/talk about, in the hopes that even if you can’t come to a compromise to continue the relationship, you can at least part ways with a minimum of anger and a maximum of closure.

But in this case, I really, really think you should just MOA.

I’m not saying this guy is necessarily a bad person, but he has four felonies FOUR! That means he got caught, was tried, and found guilty FOUR times. How many times did he commit crimes and NOT get caught? Why is he so willing to break the law? What kinds of stuff is he into? Not to mention getting a job…I’m sorry, but I really doubt he’ll be able to ever have much of a career with that kind of record. Unless all four felonies were when he was a teenager and it’s been 20+ years of squeaky-clean…just, no. Sorry, employers ASK about that stuff, and run background checks. I don’t dispute his right to an education, or to pursue a career, and I think it’s great that he’s trying, but it’s going to be a long, hard road for him.

If I really believed in “The One,” and you really thought this guy was IT for you, my advice might be different, but I really, really think you should cut your losses now and move on. I think that you can find someone who brings a lot less drama/baggage to the table. At the very, very least, take a break until he’s finished school and HAS a job and is supporting himself and living totally above-board. Then, maybe, you could try it. But as things stand now? MOA.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 9:43 am

FWIW, its possible that someone did “one” thing that resulted in several charges.

avatar silver_dragon_girl March 7, 2012, 9:46 am

True. Probably likely in this case, because otherwise I think the “three strikes you’re out” rule would apply. Although she says one serious, three misdemeanors…I thought misdemeanors weren’t felonies? Is a misdemeanor felony different than just a misdemeanor?

avatar Guy Friday March 7, 2012, 12:10 pm

I should have commented above, but despite wikipedia’s comments, most states don’t have “3 strikes and you’re out” rules. And when they do, it’s generally only certain types of felonies, since California got hit with a ton of lawsuits arguing 8th Amendment violations when someone who committed 3 minor felonies (ex: stealing items whose total value is above a certain amount; in Wisconsin, it would be $2500) and got sent away for life. I’m not saying they don’t deserve prison, but a guy who steals a couple big-screen TVs on 3 separate occasions shouldn’t go away for life.

Regarding your “tried 4 times” comment, see my above reply to JK for a scenario in which that point is negated. Also, something like 98% of criminal cases in the US get pled out; of the 300 or so criminal cases I’ve handled to some conclusion in the last 2 years, I’ve been ready to go to trial on exactly 5 of them, and only went to trial on 2. So it isn’t like the guy necessarily went to trial and lost; he most likely pled out in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence

avatar vizslalvr March 7, 2012, 7:26 pm

Still, in my experience, a person wouldn’t say they have four felonies if they have one case with four separate charges. So there is a very good chance that he has four separate felony cases, which likely each had multiple charges.

Budj Budj March 7, 2012, 9:45 am

“Where are you meeting these guys with criminal backgrounds? I think you should probably stop going there.”

I’d assume felonsingles.net….I get enough christiansingles website advertisements on facebook…I think the most hilarious thing is the fact that the women they have posing for those ads look like women that are rebelling against christian parents…which isn’t necessarily a problem for eye candies sake…just ass backwards.

To elaborate more on your point about 4 felonies…if he does it again…that is some heavy jail time. Is she prepared to deal with that? What if they have kids down the road and he ends up back in jail?

JK JK March 7, 2012, 9:49 am

Ages ago I can´t remember where I read about a place that´s actually a dating site for convicts. It was really nice, and not at all scary! The list of their crimes actually comes up on the profile of each person.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 9:50 am

ah there it is meet-an-inmate.com

rainbow rainbow March 7, 2012, 11:46 am

another one: http://www.womenbehindbars.com/

rainbow rainbow March 7, 2012, 11:44 am

Not all neighborhoods are equally nice. Maybe that’s not so far from the norm where she lives, and it’s not like she’s doing it on purpose.

avatar bethany March 7, 2012, 9:39 am

A good friend of mine is currently dating someone with a pretty serious record, so I can identify a little with what you’re going through. They met while he was in a halfway house and have been together for almost a year now. He was VERY upfront and open about his status, and has no problems discussing it, even with me. I very strongly believe that his past is in his past, and he has proved himself to be trustworthy and honest. However, he and my friend have a very loving, supportive, honest, HEALTHY relationship. Everyone who’s ever seen them together can attest to the fact that she’s never been happier, and he treats her like gold.

What alarms me in your letter and sets apart from my friend’s situation is that you admit that the relationship is toxic. If you know you’re in a toxic relationship, why are you staying? It seems to me like if you know you’re in a bad situation, you know that you should leave. His past should play no part in the decision to stay or leave. You admit it’s bad for you, so you really need to MOA.

avatar S.B. March 7, 2012, 9:47 am

I agree, I would have to have some more info about the nature of the crimes, the circumstances, and how long ago they were.
Now, it seems promising that he is attending school and focusing on a new (crime-free) career, which to me seems like an indicator that he is committed to turning his life around. (It seems a bit odd to me that no one else commented on that).
Also, LW, you call it a ‘toxic’ relationship, but earlier say you guys get along great, and don’t give an indication either way about how good this guy is as a partner. That for me would be critical info.

avatar Eljay March 7, 2012, 10:09 am

I agree. She lists several things that are great about him and the relationship – then calls it toxic. I don’t get that. It’s either a great relationship, or a toxic one. Can’t be both.

avatar Lindsay March 7, 2012, 11:24 am

I assumed she was saying that’s what her family would call it. Though if she, herself, can see that others will see it that way, then that’s a sign, too.

avatar Anna March 7, 2012, 11:30 am

The way I read it, it sounds like she doesn’t think it is a toxic relationship but feels that her family would label it as such because of his criminal record.

EscapeHatches EscapeHatches March 7, 2012, 10:06 am

A slightly different perspective:

My sister’s husband had a business that imported and sold DVDs from overseas. Turns out his supplier wasn’t obtaining the copies legally (and my sister’s husband-then-boyfriend was a dunce for not doing his due diligence) and next thing you know the Feds raid his home and business, seizing everything but the clothes he was wearing and a 15 year old POS car. After a long drawn out, and still on-going, back and forth he’ll be accepting 2 Federal felony convictions: using the US Postal Service to commit a crime and tax evasion (he should have hired an accountant).

His crimes are non-violent, essentially victim-less and more the result of not being very smart about running his business than some malignant intent.

No idea what the LW’s paramour’s crimes are – but not all felonies are the be-all-end-all of choices in life, nor are they always indicative of a more insidious nature.

Side note: I think/thought she was an idiot for marrying him but he really is a good man trying to make the best of this crap situation.

avatar rangerchic March 7, 2012, 10:25 am

Wow. Sorry your sister was/is having to go through that. I don’t understand our government in this regards. This is not a violent crime so why the felonies? (I know, I know it is a felony but come on!). I know it is his responsibility to find out but I still feel felonies for these types of convictions that aren’t malicious is too harsh.

avatar niki March 7, 2012, 11:17 am

They are often felonies because the amount of money involved in these schemes can be huge. And while they may not be violent in nature, they can ruin the lives of people who were swindled. In order for people involved in the schemes to get jail time they need to be considered felonies. The Federal system has a sentencing code that allows the sentence to be enhanced when there are large sums of money involved and lowered when there are mitigating circumstances (such as aiding the FEDS in the investigation after being caught). Unfortunately, people sometimes get caught up in federal crimes by the omission of acts, i.e. not doing your due diligence, rather than thru the commission of acts. But if crimes like mail fraud and tax evasion weren’t considered felonies people like Bernie Maddoff would not have to answer for the damage they inflict.

EscapeHatches EscapeHatches March 7, 2012, 11:45 am

Yep. He earned what is coming to him.

I just hope people can remember that not all felons look like Snidely Whiplash and cackle off into the distance to count their millions.

It’s especially heartbreaking as my sister just gave birth to their first child, a 14-week premature daughter, and sentencing is coming up in the next 12 months (they’re asking him to aid in prosecution of his supplier).

avatar niki March 7, 2012, 2:39 pm

I’m so sorry for what your sister is going through. I hope that your brother in law will get some serious consideration in sentencing by aiding the prosecution of the supplier. It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved. Good luck to your sister and her family.

Kate B. Kate B March 7, 2012, 10:27 am

Not all felonies are violent, this is true. But, like everyone else, I would need to know what specifically they were before I can give a thorough response. But here in CA, 3 felonies does mean life in prison, and even if he’s not in prison for life where you are, he WILL have a hard time finding work. Going to school (assuming he’s telling the truth) is definitely a good thing, but please do your own due diligence. Where is he going? Have you confirmed that he is in fact a student there? Have you verified exactly what he told you about his offenses? You’re not convinced because your intuition is telling you something is wrong. These guys can be very charming when they want to be. Please be careful.

avatar Muffy March 7, 2012, 10:33 am

I wouldn’t date someone who causes so much ucertainty. You don’t know if he will do them again, your family won’t approve etc.. Not worth it

avatar Amy P March 7, 2012, 10:40 am

A veterinary practice would have lots of interesting drugs lying around, for instance ketamine. I think he’s going to have a lot of trouble getting and keeping a veterinary job, even if he’s currently clean, because the vet practice is going to worry about that angle.

avatar jlyfsh March 7, 2012, 10:57 am

i was thinking the same thing. if the charges are drug related it’s going to be difficult to get in as a tech. i could see the possibility of working somewhere that revolves around boarding/grooming but not medical work. i would see that being too large of a liability for the practice.

avatar SherBear March 7, 2012, 11:11 am

My thought is that even if having a criminal background doesn’t immediately disqualify him from that line of work it will be an uphill battle finding a job, especially during a down economy. Even if he is a superb vet tech, any job that comes down between him and another candidate with no record, the application with no criminal record will get the job 100% of the time. FOUR felonies is just not going to work in any job market – many employers run background checks, I can’t see him getting away from these felonies anytime soon. MOA!!!

rainbow rainbow March 7, 2012, 11:53 am

Exactly! And now that you mention ketamine, maybe he has so many felonies because he just wont stop selling drugs. And maybe the vet thing is just a new way to try not to get caught?

avatar AndreaMarie March 7, 2012, 3:27 pm

I thought the same thing!!! Its already going to be extremely difficult to get a decent job with several felony counts but its seems like it will be almost impossible to gain employment from a place where one with “felonous” tendancies could abuse their surroundings.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki March 7, 2012, 11:00 am

I would love to weigh in on this, but can’t really formulate anything in my head because a lot of things are missing. The biggest are a) what were the felonies, b) how many misdemeanors is “multiple” (sometimes felonies are brought down to misdemeanors due to plea bargains or just being read in, etc), c) is he still on any form of probation or parole, and d) were these crimes all together or completely separate incidents.

Here’s the thing… if he’s on any form of probation or parole, he can very easily end up in jail or prison. There are probation holds (the amount of time varies from state to state), probation violations that don’t violate laws, or even something as seemingly small as a speeding ticket.

Even if he’s not on supervision, the fact that he has multiple felonies and misdemeanors (this is why I’d like to know if they were all together or separate and how far apart they were) shows that it is likely he will reoffend and possibly escalate the crimes when he does. Are you ready to deal with that? It is hard to be with someone who is incarcerated. “Hard” doesn’t even begin to really explain it.

From what I’ve seen, there are two (or three) main types of people with felonies: Those who do it once and never do it again (he doesn’t seem to fit here), those who keep doing it and keep getting caught and those who keep doing it but might not get caught. If he was the first one, I’d say go for it, but his past behavior doesn’t show that pattern. It shows a much more disturbing pattern.

Even if he is in school, that doesn’t necessarily show reform. I’ve seen people who left my halfway house to go into school or get great jobs or do awesome work with volunteer organizations that ended up back in prison anyway. Its really sad to see, but it happens a lot. And as far as being a vet tech, while individual employers may be willing to give him a chance, there are a lot of drugs available there that might stop employers from trusting him. If any of his crimes had to do with drugs, this is a concern – not only for employment, but for you. Is he a drug addict? If he is, even if he is clean now, that doesn’t mean he will stay clean and being in a relationship with an addict is extremely difficult.

In addition to considering the possible future of him or you or the two of you together, consider this: if you get married and/or have kids together, how will you explain his background to them? (They will find out eventually). Also, how will you handle it if you have a couple kids at home and he gets sent to prison and you’re suddenly a single mom struggling with losing your spouse and if you choose to stay with him, the added expenses (often prisons are a long drive – my husband’s first main prison was a 3 hour drive one way, plus the phone calls are expensive and if they want any “extras” that you’re willing to pay for like a tv, radio, clothes, money for canteen, etc– it all adds up).

Also, you said your friends and family won’t support this relationship. While I usually don’t agree with living with your friends or families needs dictating your decisions, how will you feel if something does happen and he is incarcerated and your friends and family aren’t there? I got lucky to have a handful of great friends and my family to support me, but that’s not a guarantee. I did lose a lot of friends because of it. It can get lonely and painful.

So, I’m not telling you to stay with him or not stay with him. I just think you should seriously consider all of the possible factors and how you will handle them. It is a lot harder than it looks. Of course, its possible that he is truly reformed and will never get into trouble, but that may always be nagging at you in the back of your mind.

LW, if you need to talk to anyone, please let me know. If you go to my blog (by clicking on my name), there is a link on there to email me. I’m always available to help.

avatar Visharoo March 7, 2012, 11:11 am

My dad became a felon many many years ago when he worked at a casino. He was stealing chips and then cashing them in at a sister casino. He obviously wasn’t a violent criminal, but a criminal none-the-less. Honestly, he couldn’t hold down a job for more than a year until recently- approximately 20 years later. It made our lives very difficult and money was always tight. You said that your guy wants to be a vet-tech and that he shouldn’t have a problem given his record. To put it in perspective, my dad could barely work at Walmart and Kmart after his felony. LW, this is something that you really have to consider if you want a future with this guy.

avatar cporoski March 7, 2012, 12:37 pm

You are right. Most large companies do background checks but small companies (like doctor owned vet) will not have the time or the funds to do it.

avatar jlyfsh March 7, 2012, 12:42 pm

Which is scary if say his felonies are drug related and he is still having issues and isn’t completely clean. The drugs they have in vet offices are just as serious as the drugs they have in doctor’s office. Monday I walked away with two bags of pre-mixed valium syringes for my one dog.

Not saying that it’s fair if the person is reformed, but it’s scary to think someone who may still have issues with drugs would have access and would be potentially treating my dog.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 12:47 pm

I read that as viagra and re-read it again, still viagra. You cannot imagine the thoughts that were going on in my head. :)

avatar jlyfsh March 7, 2012, 12:51 pm

hahaha that’s awesome. definitely not viagra! (and she’s a girl ;))

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 12:42 pm

But you usually have an application that asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 12:48 pm

But does that actually work? ike is there a punishment for saying no if you actually have?

I canpt really picture a hard core criminal saying he has been convicted of a felony just to be honest.

avatar lets_be_honest March 7, 2012, 12:51 pm

Yes, there are consequences to lying on those forms. Some big, some minor, all depends on where you are, what job, etc.

JK JK March 7, 2012, 12:53 pm

Thanks!

avatar Visharoo March 7, 2012, 2:44 pm

If you get hired after you withhold any felony information it is grounds for immediate dismissal.

landygirl landygirl March 7, 2012, 11:13 am

MOA, nuff said.

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