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Dating Someone with a Criminal History - Aspects to Consider when Dating Someone with a Criminal Record
Everybody wants to date the perfect individual; someone with a great heart, a charismatic personality, and a wealth of substance to offer to a relationship. All of these things are partially subjective though, which raises the question: Does someone's past mistakes make him or her an unsuitable partner today? There's no obvious answer, as everyone is at least to some degree defined by how they've lived their lives up to this point. If upon analyzing someone you're interested in, you either come to realize or come to suspect that they may have been involved in some unsavory activities in the past, you should definitely look out for yourself but you should not necessarily discount the merits of this person. There are certainly some things to consider when dating someone with a criminal history that you wouldn't have to consider when dating someone without one.
Gathering the criminal history on a person is usually not too difficult. Different states have different laws regarding exactly how simple it is to get the information but as part of a democracy the information is always made publicly available. You can get someone's criminal record through online services (just google “criminal record” to see a list of sites which offer this) for a small fee, you can go to any given courthouse and get records on any case that was heard in that particular courthouse (often times a suspect's criminal activity outside of that jurisdiction will also be noted in this documentation), and in many states you can just go to the police department and submit a request. Checking on someone's criminal record does not make you a stalker; the information is public and if people don't want others to know about their shady pasts then they shouldn't have gotten tied up in the legal system in the first place.
When illegal drugs are part of your partner's lifestyle, you need to take into account the negative effects that this can have on you personally. When it comes to the ever popular marijuana, there are arguments for its legitimacy as a harmless or even helpful substance (as evidenced by its being legalized medicinally in many states and being wholly legal in some countries) but the fact remains that for recreational use it is still illegal throughout the United States, and being around it (ie living with someone who smokes occasionally and keeps some marijuana around the house) can get you in trouble if a bad luck situation arises. Use your best judgment and if you don't consider use of marijuana to be a worthwhile risk then make that perfectly clear to your partner. Anyone who can't drop a purely unnecessary, recreational habit in order to be with you doesn't deserve you anyway. There is really no excuse to tolerate a partner's use of more dangerous recreational drugs (cocaine, heroin etc.) in any situation, as these can lead to serious criminal charges (prison sentences) and death by overdose.
Alcohol is often a big thing among those with criminal records as well. You probably already know people who have DUI convictions in their past. You should not downplay this just because alcohol is legal. Alcoholism is serious, and while it's true that not everyone arrested for an alcohol related crime is necessarily an alcoholic, it is a sign to be considered. There are good people who bring out their inner criminal tendency by drinking (there are no definitive studies, but I'd say it's likely that a large percentage of those currently incarcerated are in for a crime committed while intoxicated). As a general rule of thumb, people should not drink to get drunk and people should not drink on a daily basis. Inhibitions disappear after drinking, and bad habits can reappear as a result. Be aware of this and never stay in a relationship with an alcoholic who refuses to get help.
Those with white collar crimes (fraud, embezzlement, etc.) or theft on their record should only be dated after an understanding is established. People with a history in trying to make money by cheating the system may have a tendency to try to make money or build a lifestyle by taking advantage of those they date financially. It's always advisable to try to date individuals who have careers and a steady income, but this applies doubly when dating people who have criminal pasts. The fact of the matter is that many people delve into lifestyles of crime because of an unwillingness to accept certain standards of society. Society may not be perfect but it's what works and people just have to abide by some things in order to maintain. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of.
Violence is generally considered the most serious form of criminal activity. While good people can be caught up in bad situations that may become violent, violence is still much more indicative of a sociopathic personality than most other varieties of crime (stealing a television may show bad morals, but physically hurting someone while looking in their eyes shows a more blatant lack of empathy). If you find yourself in a relationship with someone with a history of violence then force the person to explain to you in detail why the act occurred, and why it will never occur again. If you discover that someone committed violence in the form of a sexually based act or murder then you should probably just end the relationship.
Run ins with the police happen to a lot of people. People make dumb mistakes, people make bad decisions, and some people are even wrongly convicted. Does having a criminal record make an individual less valuable than other individuals? No. But just like you take notice of one's appearance, career, friends, surroundings and conversations you should also take note of their past. Protect yourself first and foremost; if that condition is not met then it might just be a former jailbird who whould sweep you away.