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Can a Felon Drink Alcohol?

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As those who have been convicted of a felony realize, life as they knew it prior to the conviction is over.

That doesn’t mean that life is over, just that nothing will ever be the same again.

Many of the activities felons previously enjoyed may not be possible for them to pursue.

Finding a job is very challenging, and social activities may not be the same.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can drink alcohol.

  • What is Probation?
  • Conditions of Probation
  • Violation of Probation
  • Should a Felon Drink Even if it Doesn’t Violate Probation?
  • Supporting a Felon in not Drinking


What Is Probation?

Probation is part of felons’ prison sentence.  During the probation period, they remain under court supervision of an officer of the court, the probation officer.

The length of probation varies according to the offense and the criminal history of felons.  Probation can last from one to three years, but it can last longer even up to life depending on the offense, such as drug or sex offenses.

This is decided by the judge according to the “rehabilitative needs of the criminal defendant.”

Probation became part of the sentencing option for the court with the passage of the Federal Probation Act in 1925.

Initially, probation officers worked to make sure the sentence fit the offender, but the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 changed this so that the offender’s sentence fits the offense.

Conditions of Probation

While on probation felons must follow certain rules established by the sentencing judge.

Felons must abide by a set of standard and special conditions.  A violation of any of them could result in their return to prison.

Standard conditions of probation usually include such things as:

  • Reporting to a probation officer
  • Finding a job
  • Reporting a change of address
  • Not committing any new criminal offenses
  • Not using illegal drugs

In addition to these standard conditions, there may be special conditions specific to each felon.  These may include:

  • Community service
  • Payment of restitution
  • Completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program
  • No contact with a victim of their crime
  • No use of alcohol

Standard conditions of probation vary according to the jurisdiction of felons’ residence.  In some locations, standard conditions of probation might include not drinking alcohol or having alcohol in their residence.

Violation of Probation

Violation of probation happens when any of the conditions set forth by the court are not met.

When a violation occurs, the probation officer has the duty of deciding on the consequences.  These may include a warning or attendance at a probation violation hearing.

If the probation officer decides a felon violated probation, there may be additional terms added to the probation, a fine, revoked probation, or prison time.  Felons in this situation will want to have legal counsel present.

If the probation is revoked, a revocation hearing is conducted by a neutral judge.  At the hearing, the prosecuting attorney must show felons violated the conditions by a “preponderance of evidence.”

Felons will also hear any new charges that may be filed with the judge either supporting a felon’s case or refute the evidence.

The judge may add time to the original probation, hand down a fine, require treatment, jail time, or serving out the remainder of the original sentence depending on the circumstances.

Should a Felon Drink Even if it Doesn’t Violate Probation?

Even if refraining from drinking alcohol is not a condition of their probation, felons would do well to think carefully before drinking while on probation to help keep them from violating any terms that might send them back to prison.

After completing probation, there are no regulations preventing felons from drinking.  For many, drinking alcohol was a significant part of their lifestyle before their conviction.

They likely joined with friends to drink, and drinking may have contributed to the criminal lifestyle they led.

Drinking often leads to poor decision making, bad judgment, and impulsive behavior.  Many felons abuse alcohol or are addicted to it.

Since they have a choice, for many the better decision would be not to drink.  If they do choose to drink alcohol, moderation is essential.

Supporting a Felon in Not Drinking

As friends and significant others, it is important to be there to support them.

It is important to be honest with them.  If drinking alcohol was a problem before their conviction and part of their criminal lifestyle, encourage them not to drink.

There are many for whom drinking quickly led to using drugs and even more difficulties.

Remind them that if they were dependent on alcohol before, there are treatment programs that can help.

If you are someone, or have a loved one who is dealing with substance abuse – PLEASE make a free call to 866-945-2509 for assistance finding the help you need.  

Families of felons will be able to verify the many challenges their loved one faces.  Statistics are against felons with as many as 2/3 return to prison within the first two years following their release.

Families need to let their loved one know that they are there supporting them.  The challenges are great, but they don’t have to be overwhelming or stop their lives.

After all, felons completed their sentences, often lasting years.  How did they do that?  Simple.  They did it one day at a time, just like they have to approach life now.

They made it through their prison sentence.  They can make it after prison with support by their side.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can drink alcohol?  Have you or someone you know been in that situation?  What was that experience like and how did they deal with it?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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