What if I have a criminal record or DTA says I am a “fleeing felon”?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2023 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

A criminal record, including a drug felony conviction, does not bar you from receiving SNAP benefits in Massachusetts. However, you can be barred from SNAP benefits if you:
¦ are “actively fleeing” prosecution or punishment for a felony, or
¦ violate a condition of probation or parole.
See 106 C.M.R. § 367.800(D).

Fleeing felons

In order to bar you from SNAP as a fleeing felon, a law enforcement official must tell DTA of its intent to arrest you (within 20 or 30 days), and present to DTA an outstanding felony arrest warrant for any of the following National Crime Information Center Uniform Offense Classification Codes:

  • Escape (4901)
  • Flight to avoid (4902), or
  • Flight-escape (4999)

See 7 C.F.R.§273.11(n)(1)(ii) and (3)(i),(iii).

Parole/probation violators

To be considered violating probation or parole, law enforcement must be activity seeking to arrest you (within 20 or 30 days) to enforce the conditions of the probation or parole. 7 C.F.R.§273.11(n)(1)(ii) and (3)(i),(iii).

Other rules involving fleeing felons or parole/probation violators:

DTA has to follow SNAP application timeliness standards.

  • If it takes more than 30 days for DTA to verify this, DTA must process your application without taking into consideration fleeing felon or probation/parole violation status.
  • If you are barred from SNAP benefits under these rules and you have income, all of your income counts against other members of your SNAP household. See How does DTA count the income of someone not in my SNAP household?
  • If law enforcement has arrested you and placed you in custody, you are not SNAP eligible. If you are released to a halfway house and get more than half your meals from the halfway house, you are not SNAP eligible.
  • If you are sentenced to home confinement or home detention (for example, you have an electronic bracelet), you should not be denied SNAP because you are not still incarcerated. See Am I eligible for SNAP if I live in a hospital, school, or other institution?

You can always ask to speak to a Supervisor, call the Ombuds Office or file an appeal if you are denied benefits because DTA determined you are a fleeing felon or violating your probation or parole. You can also contact Legal Services.

DTA Online Guide: SNAP > Disqualifications/Sanctions > Intentional Program Violation > SNAP Disqualifications and Sanctions

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