Dating a Felon Rule 1: Search Their ‘Real’ Criminal Record

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | April 30, 2024

Woman standing next to a former convict looks at a computer background check and wonders about the dating a felon challenges and dating someone with a criminal record and asks can I lose custody of my child for dating a felon and where can a felon live?

Individuals who recently began dating a felon will likely have several questions about the short-term and long-term obstacles they may face.

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to follow Rule 1: Search their ‘real’ criminal record.

A real and full criminal record check will provide information that might be vital for a person’s safety by revealing all the details about their incarceration and criminal charges that are available, allowing the individual to make an informed decision about the relationship.

When dating a felon, the first thing to do is perform a full criminal background check using their date of birth to search both law enforcement and court records.

The following guide explains how to do this manually, as well as how to check sex offender registries and other databases that the former convict may have not disclosed.

Challenges of Dating a Felon: Does My Partner’s Criminal Record Impact Me?

Many individuals will find themselves dating a felon at some time in their life and might be a little bit surprised by this news. Those dating someone with a violent criminal past, whether it was a misdemeanor or felony-level crime, will likely have several things they need to consider when it comes to continuing the relationship with this knowledge.

Not only will individuals want to figure out the exact nature of the crime but questions about, does my partner’s criminal record affect me, will need to be answered.

In short, there is a lot to consider and every case is different. Individuals should be aware of the potential legal ramifications of being associated with certain felons, such as custody issues and lease background checks, as well as the potential emotional consequences of falling in love with a felon.

There are a few different challenges of dating a felon that individuals will want to consider, even if they only find themselves being friends with a felon. There are several pros and cons of dating a felon but not all of these will impact everyone.

Although there are no legal ‘pros’ to dating a felon, many individuals may find themselves more comfortable with someone that has faced adversity and might have a deeper understanding of life and what they want from life after being incarcerated.

The most obvious thing to consider when dating a felon is the crime (or crimes) they’ve committed, and making sure that the person hasn’t omitted anything that could cause a dating red flag.

This will have numerous implications that individuals will need to consider themselves and decide if their safety is at risk and if the individual is likely to repeat the crime. Legal issues aside, individuals will need to ask themselves, would you date someone with a felony, and decide if this is the best choice for them?

The potential legal issues that come with dating a felon are much more clear than the emotional issues. Although there is a lot to consider in regards to what the crime was, how long ago the crime was committed, state laws, etc.

Employment Issues

The first is one of the most pressing issues for individuals with felony records: Employment.

As many individuals are already aware, getting a job with a felony on your record is far more difficult than getting the same job with a clean record.1

Screenshot of USAJobs website page for FAQs with yellow arrow on can I work for the government if I have a criminal record.

Many jobs with the federal or state government do not automatically exclude felons from employment, but there are some disqualifying offenses for certain positions, which can deny a former felon employment.

Of course, this does not apply to every job and there are plenty of well-paying jobs that are willing to hire felons if the individual does not pose a major risk to the employer,2 however, the job market is far slimmer and they will permanently be banned from obtaining jobs in certain fields if they have violent crimes on their records such as becoming a teacher,3 or any job in the child care industry.

This of course could potentially lead to money issues and is the root cause of one of the most common scams that felons will run on unsuspecting individuals when they get out of prison.

Keep in mind that not all employment issues will last forever.

Although the FCRA does not limit how far back a background check can go for employment,4 more and more states are becoming 10-year background check states, which means they have adopted laws that prevent criminal history information that is older than 7-10 years from appearing on a background check.

Only a few states have adopted these laws such as California and Texas,5,6 but more and more states are creating similar laws to make it easier for felons to find meaningful employment.

Potential Scams

Although not as nefarious as other more complicated scams, many individuals who have recently been released from incarceration will manipulate individuals emotionally so that they can have more financial stability.

This obviously does not apply to most individuals but it is something to be aware of, especially if the felon is someone the individual met recently.

Where Can a Felon Live?

Similar to the issue of gaining employment, finding housing, even when the felon has money for the rent, can be difficult.

This is because, like employers, most landlords will perform background checks on tenants, in order to ensure the safety of other tenants and limit liability on their properties.

Even if the individual with a clean record is the one who signed the lease, almost all landlords will want to know who is living in the house so having a felon living with you in secret will likely be a serious lease violation.

Screenshot of U.S. Department of Justice website page for Civil Rights Division with yellow arrow on Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against an individual based on race, creed, and other characteristics, but doesn’t prevent denial based on previous criminal record.

Granted, not every landlord will automatically deny a felon, and landlords are not legally required to perform background checks on tenants.7

However, performing background checks and denying violent felons is becoming more and more common so finding suitable housing can be fairly difficult.

When it comes to where can a felon live, individuals can call landlords to ask about their criminal history restrictions or try to find private landlords, rather than large leasing companies, who are less likely to perform criminal history checks at all.

Can I Lose Custody of My Child for Dating a Felon?

There are a few other more general and circumstantial problems that can arise from someone loving a felon and potentially becoming long-term partners with them.

One of the most direct impacts that can be a deal breaker for many individuals is the way dating a felon, or simply having a friend who is a felon, can affect child custody.

Screenshot of Child Welfare Information Gateway website page for statutes with yellow arrow on determining the best interests of the child.

Courts can revoke or deny parental rights based on who lives in the household.

One of the first questions that many parents ask when they are getting romantically involved with someone that has a criminal history is, can I lose custody of my child for dating a felon, the answer is yes.

The best interest of the child will be under heavy scrutiny in just about every child custody case,8 having someone around that has a history of violent felony charges can play a major role in the custody agreement.

This of course will be fairly circumstantial but is absolutely something that individuals should consider.

Other Potential Problems

There are a few other minor issues that individuals should also be aware of when dating someone with a criminal record. Individuals who travel frequently will likely have questions like whether can felons leave the country and whether can felons get a passport, although felons can get passports and leave the country, there are a few things individuals should know.

First, the only felony charge that will automatically prevent an individual from obtaining a passport is serious drug trafficking charges like international drug trafficking.9

Besides this, no other crime will result in disqualification, even if the crime is considered serious like homicide.10 However, there are other issues associated with international travel and criminal histories.

The first is that not every country will allow individuals with criminal histories to enter, even if they have a passport. Every country has its own entry requirements and while many do not perform criminal history checks on everyone entering the country, many wills and could potentially deny the individual entry to the country.

Probation and parole are the other things that need to be considered, especially for those recently incarcerated. Individuals on parole or probation are generally not allowed to leave the state or county where the charges were filed.

This means that obtaining a passport and traveling to a foreign country while on probation or parole is usually out of the question. This can be an especially big problem if the individual is going to be on parole for an extended period of time.

Marrying Someone With a Criminal Record

Marrying someone with a criminal record is something that happens all the time and the legal repercussions are generally the same as simply dating a felon.

As mentioned, the biggest disadvantages of marrying a convicted felon will have to do with potential financial strain, finding housing, and child custody issues for those with children. However, the consequences of being married to a felon pretty much end there.

Screenshot of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website page for arrest and conviction with yellow arrow on arrest and conviction records in employment.

Felons have more options for employment than ever before, and federal law outlines the requirements regarding employing people with a criminal record.

As long as the individual has done their research on the individual, such as running a criminal history check using the steps outlined below, then there should be fairly little to worry about as long as the individuals trust each other.

Dating Someone With a Criminal Record

Whether you don’t have children at all or if you are a single mom dating a felon, individuals should always be aware of the potential impacts on their life. As mentioned, the legal impact of dating someone with a criminal record will range based on a variety of factors.

Someone with a stable job that can support both individuals and those who own their own home will see these potential issues significantly reduced, but individuals should always take time to consider all the possibilities.

If you found out boyfriend has criminal record and you have a child, it would be better to weigh the possible consequences of the relationship.

In most cases, if you found out boyfriend has criminal history, child custody will be affected in some way.

How To Find Out if Someone Is a Felon

Knowing how to determine if someone is a felon is a skill that everyone should know, regardless of if you are planning on dating someone that might have a criminal record or not.

Many people might notice some of the common signs you’re dating a criminal. These might include the individual making excuses as to why they can’t travel, being unwilling to apply for certain jobs and apartments, or a myriad of other factors.

Screenshot of Oregon Judicial Branch website page for court records with yellow arrow on requests for case file copy.

State and federal court records are public and can be used to check the criminal record of a felon.

Luckily there is an extremely easy way to at least get a pretty good idea of the individual’s criminal record. The freedom of information act makes all criminal court records publicly available so individuals can take advantage of this and examine their partner’s entire criminal history.11

Although there are a few different ways to do this, the easiest is to simply run a background check on the individual using your computer.

Free Criminal Background Check

Some individuals might uncover some red flags dating an inmate or someone who they suspect was recently incarcerated. Although dating someone on probation is often fairly obvious, those who committed crimes in the past might be able to hide it better.

The best thing to do is to run a background check on the individual to uncover their public records.

The easiest way to do this is to use the search bar at the top of this page to perform a public record search on any name that is entered. This will uncover all of the individual’s criminal records such as criminal charges and convictions as well as where the charges were filed.

Although individuals will be able to see the crimes committed using an online service, they can also use the information to take their search a step further. Individuals can use the court case information to request the original records from the court where the charges were filed in order to get a detailed account of the charges and conviction.

Those seeking a free criminal background check can use an online service that offers a free trial. However, in order to view the details of the case, individuals will need to pay a small copy fee to the court when requesting official records.

Dating for Felons

Dating for felons can be extremely difficult due to the social stigma around individuals who have been convicted of a crime.

Things like falling in love with a criminal syndrome, and taboos associated with dating a female felon have further stigmatized those with criminal records. However, more and more people are becoming more open to the idea as social awareness of the flaws in the criminal justice system increases.12

However, by being honest about their criminal past, many individuals will be able to grow their trust in the individual and come to their own decision.

Dating a Felon: Final Considerations

When it comes to dating a felon, there is a lot for individuals to consider. Although many people will jump to the emotional and safety issues that could potentially arise, the pros and cons of dating an ex-convict also involve legal issues.

Both friendship with an ex-convict and relationship of a romantic nature are likely to elicit scrutiny, individuals should become as informed on the issue as possible in order to make their own decision.

Although there are a lot of things to consider, most individuals with criminal records are able to live a fairly normal day-to-day life and the more time that passes, the less the impacts of a criminal record will be felt. There are a few things that individuals should consider when dating a felon but the decision is ultimately up to the individual’s own judgment and if they feel safe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dating a Felon

Can Felons Go to Canada?

Although the vast majority of those with felony records will be able to obtain a United States Passport, they may still face issues getting into Canada. Canada has their own entry requirements for all individuals that prohibit individuals with certain crimes from entering the country.13

Does a Felony Affect Child Custody?

Having a felony on your record or even dating someone that has a felony record will affect child custody. It can be difficult to judge how big this impact will be so individuals are encouraged to contact a lawyer for guidance and to discuss possible outcomes.

Is Marrying a Felon a Good Idea?

Marrying a felon is a good idea if the individual is right for you. Unless the individual was convicted of a serious crime that requires them to be on parole for the rest of their life, the impact won’t be as major as many people might think.

What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Battle?

Anything that reflects poorly on the living conditions of the child can be used in a custody battle. This can include the parent being romantically involved with a felon or simply being friends with someone that has a criminal record.

My Daughter Is Dating a Felon, What Should I Do?

Individuals who are concerned about their child dating a felon should run a background check on the individual in order to find out more information about the crimes they have committed in order to get a better idea of who the person is.

Does My Husband Criminal Record Affect Me?

A husband’s criminal record can have direct and indirect effects. most notably, it is harder for individuals with criminal records to pass background checks for jobs and apartments, which can lead to financial strain.

What Is the Best Background Check for Dating?

The ideal background check for dating is any online background check service that includes both a social media and criminal history check. This will give individuals a good idea if the individual is hiding anything from a legal standpoint as well as being able to see if they have alternative social media accounts they are trying to keep secret.


1U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2023). Arrest and Conviction Records: Resources for Job Seekers, Workers and Employers. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

2USAJobs. (2023). Can I work for the government if I have a criminal record? USAJobs. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <> (2023). Background Checks: What You Need To Know. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

4FTC. (2022, October 27). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

5California Legislative Information. (2023). Labor Code Section 2855. California Legislative Information. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <§ionNum=2855>

6Texas Workforce Commission. (2023). References and Background Checks. Texas Workforce Commission. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

7U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2023, January 04). State Information. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

8U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, September 01). Determining the Best Interests of the Child. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

9McCraw, S. C. (2003, May 20). International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism. FBI. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

10Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2020, September 21). Murder. FBI: UCR. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

11U.S. Department of Justice. (2011, March 14). FOIA Homepage. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

12Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. (2019, July 12). Dysfunctional Justice: What’s Wrong with the U.S. Legal System. Knowledge at Wharton. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

13Government of Canada. (2019, September 10). Immigrate to Canada: Inadmissibility. Government of Canada. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

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