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Can I restore my firearm rights in Washington if I have a domestic violence conviction?

In Washington, you can restore your right to possess and own firearms even if you have a domestic violence offense on your record.

To be eligible, you have to meet the following six (6) requirements:  

(There are similar requirements if you have a felony conviction). 

1. You have completed your sentence

To be eligible, you must have completed all conditions of your misdemeanor sentence. 

This includes the following:

  • Serving any jail time
  • Attending all probation appointments
  • Domestic violence treatment
  • Firearms safety classes
  • Any other probation conditions

This also includes paying off all of your fines (court costs, court fines, and probation fees). 

If you have more than one DV conviction, then you have to show proof that you completed all of your conditions for each case.  

2. There are no pending criminal charges against you

You cannot be currently charged with any crime in state, federal, tribal, or local court anywhere nationwide.

Only criminal charges matter.  Civil lawsuits and traffic tickets don't count.

Example: You're currently involved in a personal injury lawsuit or you're in the process of suing your landlord.  You can still go to court and file a motion to restore your gun rights.  

3. You have gone 3 consecutive years without being convicted of a crime

Under RCW 9.41.040, you can petition to restore your firearm rights if you have spent three (3) consecutive years in the community without being convicted of a crime.

This "crime free" period normally means the 3 most recent years before you file your restoration motion. But under the law, it also includes any 3 consecutive years without a criminal conviction.

The 3-year "clock" starts when you finish your sentence.

Example #1You pleaded guilty to a DV misdemeanor in 2012 and finished your sentence in 2015.  You file a motion to restore your firearm rights in 2020.  You are eligible because you have been crime-free for over 3 years.  

Example #2  You pleaded guilty to a DV misdemeanor in 2012 and you finished your sentence in 2015.  You pleaded guilty to a DV misdemeanor in January 2019 and finished your sentence in December 2019.  In 2020, you file a motion to restore your gun rights.  You are eligible because you spent over 3 crime-free years in the community between 2015 and January 2019.  

4. You have not been convicted of a Class A felony

Class A felonies are the most serious crimes in Washington.  They carry a maximum possible punishment of life in prison.

Here are the most common Class A felonies in Washington

  • Aggravated murder
  • Murder in the first degree
  • Murder in the second degree
  • Manslaughter in the first degree
  • Burglary in the first degree
  • Robbery in the first degree
  • Assault in the first degree
  • Assault of a child in the first degree
  • Arson in the first degree
  • Vehicular homicide

You also cannot restore your firearm rights if you have been convicted of conspiracy or solicitation to commit a Class A felony.  

5. You do not have any sex offenses 

You cannot restore your firearm rights if you have any convictions for sex crimes.  Most sex offenses are located in RCW 9A.44.   

Here are the most common sex crimes in Washington

  • Rape in the first degree
  • Rape in the second degree
  • Rape in the third degree
  • Rape of a child (any degree)
  • Child molestation (any degree)
  • Commercial sexual abuse of a minor
  • Incest (any degree)
  • Indecent liberties
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor in the first degree
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor in the second degree
  • Failure to register as a sex offender (felony only)

Under the law, a sex offense also includes any traditional felony (i.e. robbery or kidnapping) with a finding of sexual motivation.

The most serious sex crimes in Washington (e.g. rape in the first degree) are also class A felonies.  

6. Your felony convictions have washed out

You may be able to restore your firearm rights in Washington if you have prior felony convictions.  It mainly depends on how much time has passed since you were convicted.  

Under Washington law, your prior felony convictions "disappear" for purposes of firearm rights restoration once you have gone a certain number of years without committing any new crimes.  

The courts call this the "wash out" period.  

  • Class B felonyThe wash out period is 10 years.
  • Class C felony: The wash out period is 5 years
  • Class A felonyClass A felonies never wash out.  This is why you cannot restore your gun rights if you have a class A conviction, no matter how long ago it was.

The wash out period starts when you are released from prison on your felony and the clock stops when you commit a new crime.  

Class B felony: 

Example #1You are convicted of a class B felony in 2004.  You are released from prison in 2008.  You file a petition to restore your firearm rights in 2020. ELIGIBLE ... assuming you meet other requirements.

Why: Your class B felony has washed out because 12 years have elapsed since you were released from prison in 2008.

Example #2You are convicted of a class C felony in 2014.  You are released from prison in 2016.  You petition for firearm restoration in 2020.  NOT ELIGIBLE.

Why: Only 4 years have elapsed since you were released from prison.  Your class C felony does not wash out until 2021.   

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