Tacoma Firearms Attorney
Even though U.S. citizens are afforded the right to bear arms, this comes with certain restrictions. For instance, those with a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence conviction on their record are barred from possessing a firearm.
It is also illegal to carry a concealed weapon on your person if you do not have a valid license. These violations are taken very seriously in Washington and can lead to some very significant penalties such as losing your gun rights, expensive fines, spending time behind bars, and a blemish on your criminal record. Being charged with any type of weapons crime can be frightening and the full impact of a conviction will largely depend on your circumstances and previous history. Fortunately, you don’t need to go through it on your own. You have options to consider.
Washington Firearm & Weapons Charges
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (RCW 9.41.040)
This refers to the unlawful possession of a firearm and involves the ownership, possession, or control of any firearm in a manner that violates the law. Illegal possession can come about in several ways, but generally if you are found with a weapon that is not registered to you or your criminal record prohibits you from possessing it, you could face charges.
Washington divides illegal possession into two categories: unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. Specifically, if you were previously convicted of a crime involving violence, child molestation, rape, promoting prostitution, drive-by shooting, vehicular assault or homicide by a person under the influence, or any other weapon related felony you will be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree. This is a class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. Unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree is reserved for individuals with a lesser felony conviction for crimes like fourth-degree assault, stalking, criminal endangerment, or violating a protective order. As a second-degree offense, this is a class C felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Washington is what’s known as a “Shall Issue State,” which means that to lawfully possess and carry a concealed firearm, the state must perform a background check and issued a permit for you to do so. Therefore, if you are found to have a firearm in your possession, you are obligated to have proper licensing and be compliant with state regulations. If you are accused of violating these rules, you could be charged with a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Possessing an Illegal Firearm
Not to be confused with unlawful possession, there are also certain firearms that are entirely prohibited in Washington. For example, it is against the law to manufacture, transport, buy, own, sell, or possess a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or any of their necessary parts. There are specific exceptions that apply to certain members of law enforcement or individuals licensed under federal law. Possession of these banned weapons are considered a class C felony with penalties up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Other Dangerous Weapons
There are also various items that are not firearms, but have been deemed too dangerous to carry on your person. These include instruments that can be used as weapons like sling shots, brass knuckles, spring loaded knives, daggers, or any suppression devices used to conceal the volume of a firearm. Possession of a dangerous weapon is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a max fine of $5,000.
Defending Against a Firearm/Weapon Charge
If law enforcement discovers an unlawful firearm in your possession, things may seem hopeless. For example, the law does not require that you knew that you were in possession of an unlawful weapon. But, by partnering with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you may be able to challenge the search that led to the discovery. If your rights were violated or there were mistakes made in the investigation, evidence could be excluded and the resulting charges could be reduced or outright dismissed. Your lawyer may be able to show that your possession was in fact lawful. This is usually accomplished in situations where a concealed carry permit was issued by a state that Washington recognizes as valid.
Restoring Firearm Rights
In Washington, anyone with a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence conviction is ineligible to possess a firearm. This ban typically lasts for life and does not allow exception for things like target shooting or hunting, which are popular activities throughout the state. This ban can also have serious implications for people who unknowingly encounter firearms. For instance, if you live with someone who legally owns a gun, but you have a felony conviction, you could still face charges.
However, with help from a skilled firearm lawyer you may be able to have your gun rights restored if you meet certain criteria: no new convictions for a five-year period for felonies or three years for misdemeanors. However, if you were previously convicted for a class A felony or a sex crime, you are not eligible to have your gun rights reinstated.
Consult a Skilled and Passionate Tacoma Firearms Attorney
In any criminal matter, finding capable legal representation is incredibly important. If you are charged with a firearm-related offense in Washington it is equally important to find an attorney who believes in protecting your rights. You could be facing jail time, a mark on your record, and the loss of one your constitutional rights. With a proven track record of success and a dedication to serve every client, contact firearm attorney Morgan Fletcher Benfield immediately if you are interested in restoring your gun rights or have been charged with a Washington weapons crime.