You or a loved one may have recently been convicted of a crime and wonder how that will affect firearm rights. This becomes a question of both federal laws and Washington state laws, and it depends on the circumstances surrounding your conviction. This article will discuss further how your rights may be affected.
What Does Federal Law State About Firearms Rights After a Conviction?
Federal law states that anyone convicted of any felony is prohibited from owning a gun for their lifetime. Certain misdemeanors also fall under this category of a lifetime ban if the misdemeanor involves domestic violence. Those with a current restraining order against them may also be prohibited from using a firearm while their restraining order is active.
Federal law also states that if a gun can become operable, it is still considered a felony to possess it. Under federal law, unlawfully possessing silencers or other gun accessories and ammunition could also be considered a felony.
How Does Washington State Law Handle Firearms Rights after Convictions?
Washington state takes firearms laws very seriously. If you are prohibited after a conviction on the federal level, you have extra restrictions that must be followed on the state level as well. For example, you will be prohibited from owning a gun as a collectible item, having a gun in your possession (even if temporarily), or target shooting.
According to Washington state laws, unlawful possession of a firearm will result in a felony. It is best to take all precautions to avoid being convicted of a felony. This can also mean being conscious of those you spend time with, as even if the gun is not in your possession, if you have access to it (whether in your home or a vehicle you are driving or riding in), this may result in a felony conviction.
Another aspect to note is if an individual has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment or is found not guilty by reason of insanity, this person would not be able to own a firearm.
Can I Get my Firearms Rights Restored?
If you have been convicted of a Class A felony, the most severe level in the state of Washington, you are not eligible to have your rights restored. Similarly, if you have been convicted of a sex offense, you are also ineligible to have your rights restored.
Other convictions, such as other felony convictions, may be eligible for restoration of firearm rights. This depends on the circumstances of the conviction, the amount of time that has passed since the sentence, and other facts. No two situations will be the same, and you can consult a trusted attorney to determine the likelihood of your eligibility. In some cases, firearm rights can be restored after a felony conviction in Washington.
Some of the general guidelines that would make you more eligible than not to have your rights restored are listed below;
- No class A felony conviction on your record
- No conviction for a felony sex offense
- No active restraining orders
- No charges pending (this excludes civil matters such as traffic tickets)
- If at least three years have passed since your misdemeanor conviction
- If at least five years have passed since your felony conviction
- If all conditions have been met based on previous convictions
- No prior convictions or repeated convictions in your history
As already stated, each situation is different. There may be facts surrounding your case that make you ineligible that are not listed above. An experienced attorney can review your case and help you determine the likelihood of restoring your firearms rights and your next steps.
What if I was Convicted Out of State for a Felony?
This can be seen as a gray area. Suppose the felony you were convicted of in another state can be legally compared to a Class A felony in Washington. In that case, it is unlikely that you would be eligible to restore your firearms rights.
Speaking with a knowledgeable attorney regarding your specific case can help determine whether or not the restoration of your firearm rights is likely in the state of Washington.
How Do I Restore my Firearms Rights?
This process can be lengthy and complex, and an experienced attorney can be your best asset when pursuing the restoration of your gun rights.
One of the first things you will need to do is to file a petition to restore your rights to the court of record that removed your firearm rights or to the superior court in the county where you currently reside.
Some instances will allow you to avoid going to court to restore your rights. By working with an attorney, you can usually avoid a court appearance and rely on your attorney to appear on your behalf.
How Can an Attorney Help?
By having a trusted attorney as your advocate, you can easily navigate the process of restoring your firearms rights. They are well-versed in the laws surrounding your rights and can look at your case in great detail to help you determine your options.
Contact our family owned and run law firm at (253) 383-3328 today. We look forward to working with you.