If you lost your constitutional right to bear arms due to being convicted of a crime, you may be wondering if, and when, you can legally own a gun again. The answer depends on the type of crime for which you were convicted and the time that has passed since your conviction; there may also be issues associated with mental health conditions that may preclude you from owning a gun. The following information should help you determine if you are eligible to have your gun rights restored in Washington.
Types of convictions and timelines
If you were convicted on misdemeanor charges, and you have not had any further criminal offenses for the past three years, you can petition the court to restore your right to own a gun. You must have completed the conditions of your sentence, and you cannot have any prior felony convictions that would prevent you from owning a firearm. Also, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge, you cannot have your gun rights restored. This is true for law enforcement officers and military personnel who may need a gun as part of their jobs. So if you fall into one of those categories and have been convicted of domestic violence, you may have lost your job as well.
If you were convicted on felony charges, you will have to wait five years before you can petition to have you gun rights reinstated, provided you have no further felony convictions on your record. This rule applies to most nonviolent felony offenses and does not include sex crimes and Class A felonies.
In you were convicted of a sex offense or a Class A felony, you cannot petition to have your gun rights restored. If you had the charges expunged or sealed, or if you received a pardon, you may have a chance to restore your gun ownership rights.
Petition the court
If you feel you are eligible to have your right to own firearms restored, you will have to petition a superior court. The petition process can be complex and challenging, and it includes several steps. When filing your petition, you must submit copies of the petition to all the necessary parties with proof of your eligibility. You must also attend scheduled hearings that will determine your eligibility and status. If approved, you must ensure that the proper paperwork is filed with the appropriate authorities and law enforcement agencies. Otherwise, if you are caught with a firearm without the proper documentation in place, you can still face harsh consequences.
With so much at stake with regard to your rights, coupled with the fact that the petition process is so involved, those in Washington seeking to restore their gun rights would do well to consult with an attorney experienced in this practice area. Such an attorney would be able to analyze your case, offer a full explanation of your available options and assist you throughout the process.