Although I’ve never even been arrested, I happen to know 4 people in prison for murder (one of whom is my aunt), have 5 or 6 uncles who are felons, and know a zillion other people who for whatever reason are essentially career criminals. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been a magnet for fuckups, scumbags and criminals, and I count some of them as my best friends. That said, you are right to be a little leery and sketched out. Here’s my take on being friends with scary criminals:
They can turn on you at any time, for no apparent reason
Think of these kind of friends as having a pet tiger: chances are everything will be fine, but there’s always a possibility that one day it will decide to maul you half to death. No matter how tight you are with them, shit can go south any time with these types, especially when drugs are involved (eg, they’re strung out, need a fix, or are so high they don’t know what the fuck is happening). Do not ever let yourself think “They only do fucked up shit to OTHER people, they’d never do anything to ME.”
If you are thinking “Hanging out with these guys seems like a great way to accidentally ruin my life,” you are correct (and I’m sure they would agree).
You can very easily end up in over your head
Let’s say your scumbag friend asks you for a ride to the store, because of course he doesn’t have a car. You’re in a hurry so you’re speeding a little, get pulled over and the cops find drugs and guns on your friend. All of sudden you get charged with a felony or two, your car gets impounded, and your life just burned down. Or the cops show up at his tattoo shop and he asks you to hold his gun– you can’t really say no, but now you might be in possession of a murder weapon. Even if the charges get dropped, having drug or gun arrests on your record can follow you for years. Point being, it’s playing with fire to hang out with these people and you might get burned.
They can be great friends
Given how risky and fucked up it can be to have criminal friends, why bother? Although the smart choice is probably NOT to hang out with these types, the ironic part is that they can be some of the best friends you could wish for: super chill, fun, loyal and always good for ridiculous stories.
Trying to impress these guys with how ‘down’ you are = chapter one in the book of incredibly foolish ideas. No matter how convinced you are that you can hang at their level, you are wrong. And it will end badly.
Dont try to be down
The important part is to make sure you set boundaries, and let them know that although you’re friends, you are on a different path. The best way to end up caught up in some shit is trying to impress them, because impressing them means doing something really fucking stupid. Just think of their criminal activity as a hobby they spend a lot of time on, which is totally cool to hear about, you’re just not interested in participating. It won’t make them respect you more if you try to be down– in fact, just the opposite: if you have your shit together but are still hang out scumbags even though aren’t one, they’ll respect you a lot more.
Always have an ‘escape route’
Given that things can get fucked up in an instant when you’re with these guys, make sure you always have an out. That could be as literal as not letting them be your only ride to a super sketchy party, or something more general like “Dude, you know I can’t get kicked out of school” when they ask you to help them sell Xanax on campus or something.