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Do I lose my right to bear arms if arrested?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Firearms rights |

Maybe an arrest happened after drinking and driving, or an officer caught you in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe you made a mistake years ago and are no longer the same person. Whatever the reason for a criminal conviction, you may still find that the arrest impacts your future in surprising ways. Not many people realize that a criminal conviction can greatly impact your basic rights. These can include rights we often take for granted, like the right to vote, travel to other countries, and own a firearm.

When will I lose the right to have a firearm?

In Washington, an individual generally loses their right to bear arms if convicted of a serious offense, felony, or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

In most cases, the final order from the court will provide information on how a criminal conviction impacts your rights. After you serve your time and wait the allotted time, you may be able to restore these rights. Some automatically restore, while others require work.

How can I get these rights back?

The court can remove these restrictions in various situations, such as a pardon or certificate of rehabilitation. An individual must generally wait five years after a felony and three after a misdemeanor to receive a restoration of firearm rights.

Why should I consider expungement?

Successfully expunging your record can lead to better employment opportunities, easier access to housing, and restoration of certain civil rights. It is a step toward reclaiming your future and leaving the past behind.

Before pursuing expungement, you must determine if you are eligible. Eligibility hinges on several factors, including:

  • Type of conviction,
  • Time passed since the conviction or end of the sentence,
  • Compliance with all terms of the sentence, and
  • No pending charges

If these criteria are met, you request your record from the Washington State Patrol and complete the necessary forms. These forms are then generally filed with the court that heard your case.

Expungement and restoration of gun rights in Washington offers a path to redemption and a chance to move forward without the weight of a criminal record. Following these guidelines and understanding the legal impacts, you can take the first step toward a new beginning.

Remember, this information is a starting point, and laws may change. For the most current advice, consult with a legal professional.