Owning a gun is important to you, whether for hunting, for protection or simply as an exercise of your Second Amendment right to bear arms. You are well aware of the efforts many are going through to protect the rights of U.S. citizens to lawfully possess firearms. However, a recent criminal offense has cost you the right to own or buy a gun.
If you have a felony conviction or domestic violence charge, chances are authorities took your weapons. You probably have questions about how to get your rights restored or if it is even possible that you would ever lawfully own a weapon again.
Federal bars to expungement
Fortunately, Washington law has provisions for situations like yours. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to take steps to reclaim your right to purchase and possess a firearm. This involves the process of expungement, which means vacating or canceling a judgement against you. Expungement of your criminal record is not easy, and it is not always a guarantee since state laws and federal laws are not always the same. Under federal law, you may not qualify for expungement under these circumstances:
- You have a substance abuse problem.
- You have a mental health condition that renders you a danger to the public or unable to make responsible choices related to the law.
- You are unlawfully present in the U.S.
- You are a fugitive from justice.
- You received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military.
- You have renounced your U.S. citizenship.
- You are a convicted sex offender.
In many other cases, you may be eligible to seek an expungement of your record, which will reinstate your right to own weapons. You may have to fulfill other requirements, such as completing your penalties and allowing a certain number of years to pass without additional trouble with the law. Your attorney can provide complete information about the eligibility requirements in your case.
Since obtaining an expungement and applying for reinstatement of your firearms rights are complicated procedures, you may benefit from the assistance of a skilled and experienced attorney. If officials wrongly deny your right to own a weapon, you may appeal the decision. This may include an investigation into your criminal background and the release of your fingerprints. Having an attorney to guide you through this process can ensure that officials do not violate your rights or wrongly deny you due process.