November 9, 2001
Subject: Fleeing Felons
To: All Regional Directors / Food Stamp Program
Since the final rule, Personal Responsibility Provision of PRWORA, was
published we have received several questions concerning what constitutes
“fleeing” for the purposes of 7 CFR 273.11(n) Fleeing felons and probation
or parole violators.
The final rule provided at Section 7 CFR 273.11(n) that individuals who
are fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody for a crime, or an attempt
to commit a crime, that would be classified as a felony, or who are violating
a condition of probation or parole under a Federal or State law are ineligible
to participate in the Food Stamp Program. We did not further clarify
the term “fleeing” nor did we discuss it in the preamble.
However, that left standing guidance that we issued on April 13, 1998,
which stated, “A fleeing felon is usually determined by the existence
of an outstanding warrant for the individual’s arrest; the individual
is assumed to be fleeing as of the date the warrant is issued.”
It has since come to our attention that Federal courts have interpreted
Federal law to require that, in order for an individual to be fleeing,
that individual must be acting with the intent to avoid prosecution.
For cases where a warrant has been issued, the individual must have knowledge
that a warrant has been issued for his arrest in order to be considered
“fleeing.” Therefore, if a State agency determines that an individual
has a warrant out for his arrest, the State agency should verify that
the individual has knowledge of the warrant. Once the individual
has knowledge of the warrant, either by having received the warrant personally,
or by being advised of its existence by the State agency, he is technically
at that time, “fleeing.”
In the case where a State agency determines during the application processing
time period, that an individual has a warrant out for his arrest, we suggest
the State agency verify with the applicant whether he has knowledge of
the warrant. Furthermore, we strongly urge the State agency to give
the individual an opportunity to submit documentation that the warrant
has been satisfied.
We are considering the possibility of further clarifying this issue in
a future rulemaking. However, in the meantime, please advise State
agencies of this guidance and work with them to clarify their current
If you have any questions concerning this guidance, please contact Moira
Johnston at 703-305-2515.
Arthur T. Foley
Program Development Division