By: South Sound Law Group

How Long After a Felony Conviction Can You Restore Gun Rights in Washington?

Criminal Defense

How Soon Could You Regain Your Gun Rights After a Felony Conviction in Washington State?

A felony conviction can have long-lasting impacts on many areas of your life, from your voting rights to your ability to apply for financial assistance for housing and education. Automatically losing the right to possess a firearm due to a felony conviction is another consequence that can potentially lead to future issues. Even if you do not intend to own a gun, it can be essential to petition to restore your gun rights when you are eligible to avoid any possible legal problems. If you are found to be in possession of a firearm as a felon, even if the weapon is in your home or vehicle and does not belong to you, you could face charges that may be accompanied by up to a 10-year prison sentence.

The Washington state legislature has put on record that it believes it is essential to recognize and remove barriers for individuals convicted of crimes who have shown that they have safely reintegrated into their communities. While not every person with a felony conviction will be eligible to have their gun rights restored, those who meet the criteria for restoration may be able to regain their gun rights as soon as five years after the completion of their felony sentence.

However, it’s crucial to seek legal counsel to understand your rights and have guidance throughout the restoration process. The Washington statutes regarding the restoration of the right to possess a firearm were updated in 2023. New rules were instituted that may make it more challenging for some individuals to regain their gun rights. An experienced Tacoma restoration of gun rights attorney can evaluate your situation, determine if you meet the new eligibility requirements, and help you with all aspects of your petition.

What Are the Updated Requirements for the Restoration of Gun Rights?

The newest version of the Washington statute addressing the restoration of the right to possess firearms, RCW 9.41.041, went into effect in July 2023. As of January 1, 2024, the courts are required to use new standard forms for petitions and orders under this updated section of the law (although, these have not been published yet). The new criteria for reinstatement for convicted felons are as follows:

  • You have not been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity for a class A felony, a felony sex offense, or a felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years or more.
  • You have not had any felony or misdemeanor convictions that would prohibit the possession of firearms in the five consecutive years prior to your petition.
  • You have no pending charges for a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony at the time of your petition or any point during the petition process.
  • You have completed all the conditions of your sentence, including court-ordered treatment. The only exception to this rule is unpaid non-restitution fines and fees.
  • You have no previous felony convictions that would result in an offender score.
  • You do not have an out-of-state conviction that would disqualify you from possessing or owning a firearm in that state.
  • You have no other current legal restrictions on possessing a firearm, such as an order to surrender or prohibit weapons.
  • You could pass a background check to own a firearm.

How Do You Petition for the Restoration of Your Firearm Rights?

If you meet the criteria above, you can file your petition in a superior court in a county that entered your prohibition. If you have had multiple felony convictions that prevent you from owning a firearm, you will need to restore your firearm rights for each separate conviction.

The prosecuting attorney in the county where the petition is filed must also be served with the petition.

Once your petition is filed, the prosecuting attorney will review your records to ensure you meet all requirements for reinstatement. If anyone has obtained a full protection order or a no-contact order against you in the past and has requested notification of a petition to restore gun rights, the prosecutor will make a reasonable attempt to contact them. They will also try contacting listed victims of prohibited crimes on your record. These individuals will have the opportunity to submit a sworn statement if they have any information relevant to whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements for restoration.

The court will schedule a hearing if they require more information to adequately determine your eligibility. Your lawyer can help you prepare for this hearing if it is needed. If the court determines that you meet all requirements for gun rights restoration, they will grant your petition and inform the Washington State Patrol within three days that your right to possess a firearm has been restored.

How Can a Skilled Lawyer Assist You in Regaining Your Right to Possess a Firearm?

At South Sound Law Group, we believe in helping individuals move forward with their lives after serving their time for a felony conviction. If you have not had a criminal conviction for five years and meet other eligibility requirements, you may be able to petition to restore your gun rights.

Regaining these rights can be key for people who wish to hunt game, participate in shooting sports, or simply own a firearm for protection. However, the restoration of the right to possess a firearm can be just as crucial for individuals who are not gun owners but wish to protect themselves from unwittingly being considered in “control” of a weapon owned by a friend, family member, or roommate. If law enforcement finds that you are in the immediate vicinity of a firearm as a felon, you may face severe legal consequences for possession, even if you did not know it was there.

With the recently updated statutes and the complicated process for petitioning the court, it can be challenging for individuals to navigate gun rights restoration on their own. If you are considering this step, it’s vital to discuss your case with a knowledgeable lawyer who can answer your questions and provide the legal support you need. To request a free consultation, contact our office today at 253-465-2722.