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How a Conviction Can Affect Your Federal Assistance

Posted by Christopher Martens | Dec 05, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Consequences of Crime

A criminal conviction can affect many areas of your life. It can rob you of your freedom, it can cost you money and time, it can take away some of your rights and privileges, it can affect your status in society and your relationships with people, and it can cause you to miss out on countless opportunities. Those opportunities will be missed long after you've served your time, paid your fines, and completed probation. You may miss out on getting that dream job, renting that great apartment, or getting that much needed loan.

You may also miss out on opportunities at a time when you need them the most. Public assistance programs provide money, housing, household goods and utilities, groceries and nutrition, and medical care for thousands of Californians every year. Everyone can hit hard times, and during those times the state of California and the federal government may be able to help. But if you have a criminal conviction, the types of help you are eligible to receive may be limited.

California public assistance programs such as MediCal, CalFresh, and CalWORKS assist many Californians with meeting their basic living expenses, feeding their families, and keeping a roof over their heads. These programs are basic privileges for Californians in need, but something like a criminal conviction can limited someone's access to and eligibility for them. Unfortunately, those with criminal convictions face a higher chance of needing public assistance because of the effects of their conviction on their employability. And if these people also have families to support and provide for, countless others will suffer as well. If you can't find a job because of a criminal conviction, you may find yourself in need of public assistance. For this reason, it is important to know and understand what you stand to lose with a criminal conviction.

In the past, a single felony conviction would render you ineligible for certain forms of public assistance for life. Laws have been reformed since then, but a criminal conviction can still affect your access to certain public assistance programs. Here are some things you should know about California's most used public assistance programs:

CalFresh (food stamps)

Most people with criminal records will still be eligible for CalFresh. Some felony offenders may not be eligible. Those with certain serious drug offenses are ineligible for CalFresh, including offenses for manufacturing, selling, possessing with intent to sell, transporting, giving away, importing, or soliciting a minor for drug use.  Fleeing felons are also not eligible.

CalWORKS (TANF or welfare)

In 1997, felons with drug convictions were rendered ineligible for this very valuable form of public assistance. This affected countless children and other dependents of the adults who were denied. After the reform, most of those with criminal convictions are now eligible, except those with felony drug convictions for manufacturing, selling, possessing with intent to sell, transporting, giving away, importing, or soliciting a minor for drug use. Feeling felons are also not eligible for benefits. Adults who are ineligible because of a conviction may still get aid for their children under certain circumstances. 


Those with criminal convictions are eligible for MediCal if they meet all other eligibility requirements. Both convicted drug felons and fleeing felons can continue to receive MediCal. You cannot receive MediCal, however, if you are currently incarcerated.

You may need to fulfill additional requirements if you have a criminal conviction and want to get public assistance. Some programs require you to enroll in a drug treatment program or work in order to get benefits. Typically, felons who are in violation of their parole or probation are not eligible for benefits. These are just some general guidelines for the most common public assistance programs in California. Other benefits programs may have different eligibility requirements, so make sure you check with the specific program you are requesting benefits from.

If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing criminal charges, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens will work hard to defend your rights and help you fight your charges. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights in court. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.

About the Author

Christopher Martens

Bio Visalia and Bakersfield criminal defense attorney who has dedicated his life to helping those who have been accused of crimes or injured due to the negligence of others.


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