Can my criminal history limit my ability to get CalFresh?

Maybe. But even if you are not eligible, others in your household may be. You might be disqualified if:

    You are a “fleeing felon”—meaning you are hiding or running away to avoid felony charges or to avoid being incarcerated for a felony conviction.[1501]
    You are in violation of a condition of your probation or parole, as found by a court or administrative judge.[1502]
    You have been found guilty of an Intentional Program Violation (IPV) involving fraud or misuse of public benefits.[1503] Depending on how many IPVs you have, and what they were for, you may be disqualified from CalFresh and CalWORKs for varying periods of time—anywhere between 12 months to life.[1504]
What does it mean to be “found guilty of an Intentional Program Violation(IPV)”?

If a county welfare agency thinks you violated its rules when applying for or getting benefits, it may investigate and hold an administrative hearing to determine if you are guilty. It may also ask you to admit guilt by signing a Disqualification Consent Agreement (DCA). When you apply for CalWORKs, any prior IPV counts against you if you were found guilty at a hearing, or you admitted guilt by signing a DCA (even if you did not have a hearing).

Important Update!CalWORKs and CalFresh Now Open to People with Prior Drug Felony Convictions

GREAT NEWS! California eliminated the ban on aid for people with past drug-related felony convictions. Starting April 1, 2015, you could no longer be disqualified from CalWORKs or CalFresh because of a prior drug-related felony conviction and no longer have to report a prior drug felony on any CalWORKs or CalFresh application or report (see more on CalFresh “food stamps” beginning on PG. 454). If you applied for CalWORKs or CalFresh before April 1 2015, and were denied due to a drug conviction, you can reapply under the newer rules. NOTE: If you are on parole, probation, or another form of community supervision, it’s important that you follow the rules of your supervision to remain in the CalWORKs and/or CalFresh program(s). If you violate the terms of your supervision, you will lose CalFresh and CalWORKs.[1505] If anyone in your family was already receiving CalWORKs aid, your benefits should have been automatically added to your family’s April 2015 Grant. Once you are added to CalWORKs, you are also required to participate in the Welfare-to-Work program requirement (see PG. 476). If you were already meeting Welfare-to-Work requirements, you became newly eligible for transportation costs, subsidized child care, and other work supports. Contact your family’s CalWORKs caseworker if you do not receive a letter from the county about these new benefits and rules by March 1, 2015.

  1. 1501

    “Fleeing felon” is a legal term for someone “fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement after conviction” for a felony offense. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1382(e)(4), 402(x)(I)(A); see also Bronx Defenders, The Consequences of Criminal Proceedings,

  2. 1502

    42 U.S.C. § 608(a)(9)(A).

  3. 1503

    7 C.F.R. § 273.16(b)

  4. 1504

    Application for CalFresh Benefits, State of Cal., Health and Human Servs. Agency,

  5. 1505

    See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11251.3, 17012.50.