If you were convicted of a crime, you might have lost many of your civil rights, including your Second Amendment right to possess a firearm. Losing your gun rights means you cannot do something that is perfectly legal for people who have not been convicted of a crime. Being prohibited from possessing a firearm can also lead to additional criminal charges for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Fortunately, you can address this situation by working with an experienced restoration of gun rights attorney.
If you were convicted of a felony or a gross misdemeanor involving domestic violence, you might have lost the right to possess a firearm. This ban will last for your entire lifetime unless you take steps to have your gun rights restored.
If you lost the right to possess a firearm and never had your gun rights restored, you face the possibility of being charged with the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm. You can also face charges for unlawful possession of a firearm if you are riding in a car with someone who is in possession of a firearm, or if you are in a home where firearms are present.
Unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree is a class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
Unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree is a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
When you lose your gun rights, you are not allowed to possess a firearm until the court restores them. This prohibition applies to guns used for target shooting, temporary possession of someone else’s gun, or possessing collectible weapons. The only way to have your gun rights restored is by filing a petition to restore your gun rights in the Superior Court.
To be eligible to have your gun rights restored, you must wait between three and five years after your sentence is complete. Then, you must file a petition to restore your gun rights in the Superior Court where you were convicted or where you live.
If you were convicted of a felony, you must wait five years after completing your sentence before you are eligible to petition for a restoration of your gun rights.
If you were convicted of a non-felony that led to the loss of your gun rights, you must wait three years after completing your sentence to seek a restoration of your gun rights.
To be eligible, you cannot have been charged with any additional felonies or misdemeanors, cannot have any other convictions or court orders that prohibit the possession of a firearm, and must not have any other prior felony convictions that prohibit the possession of a firearm. You must also have completed all of the conditions of your sentence.
You do not need to have your criminal record vacated before filing a petition for restoration of your gun rights. Vacating a criminal conviction is a separate process that is not necessary before seeking a restoration of your gun rights.
To seek a restoration of your gun rights, your attorney will file a petition under RCW 9.41.040(4). The petition for restoration of your gun rights can be filed either in the Superior Court that entered the order prohibiting you from possessing a firearm or in the Superior Court where you live.
The judge will review your petition, and the prosecutor has a chance to oppose it. If the prosecutor opposes your petition to restore your gun rights, you and your lawyer will need to attend a hearing to explain why you believe the court should restore your gun rights.
If you lost your gun rights due to a domestic violence conviction, federal laws may apply. There is currently no process for restoring gun rights under federal law. Even if your gun rights are restored under state law, the federal government will not recognize the state order. And because the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) performs firearms background checks, you may encounter problems when trying to purchase a firearm from a gun dealer. However, the federal definition of domestic violence is significantly narrower than the definition in Washington. The specific circumstances of your conviction may impact whether the federal prohibition applies.
Restoring your gun rights can be a complicated process. Working with a gun rights lawyer who has experience petitioning for a restoration of firearm rights increases your likelihood of success.
Gun Rights Attorney Justin Campbell has extensive experience assisting people in northwest Washington who need help restoring their rights.
Learn why people choose the Campbell Law Firm, read reviews from other people we’ve helped, and contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help. Call the Campbell Law Firm at (360) 588-4111, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.
From his office in Anacortes, Justin Campbell represents people in Skagit County, Island County, and San Juan County. Attorney Campbell regularly practices in these courts, knows the nuances of local processes, and will help you seek restoration of your gun rights.