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

In Washington, you can restore your right to possess and own a firearm if you meet the following requirements five (5) requirements.

(There are similar requirements if you have a conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence crime.)

You can find these requirements located in RCW 9.41.040(40), the firearms restoration statute.  

1. There are no pending criminal charges against you

You cannot restore your firearm rights if you are currently charged with any crime in any jurisdiction in the country.

This includes all 50 states, any federal court, or any tribal court.  

Only criminal charges matter.  Civil lawsuits and traffic tickets, for example, will not prevent you from getting you gun rights back.    

2. You have gone 5 consecutive years without being convicted of a crime

You can petition to restore your firearm rights once you have spent at least five (5) consecutive years in the community without having been convicted of a crime.

Under RCW 9.41.040(4), being "in the community" means not being incarcerated in jail or prison.  Therefore, the 5 year "clock" starts when you are released from any type of confinement.  

This "crime free" period can mean the 5 most recent years before you file your firearms restoration motion.  But it also includes any 5 consecutive years in the community without a criminal conviction.  

ExampleYou plead guilty to a felony in 2010 and you are released from prison in 2013.  In 2019, you are convicted of a misdemeanor DUI.  In 2020, you file a motion to restore your firearm rights.  You are eligible because you spent 6 crime-free years in the community between 2013 and 2019.  

3. 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 without the possibility of parole.

Here are some of the most typically charged Class A felonies:

  • 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 for if you have been convicted of conspiracy or solicitation to commit a Class A felony.  That is, you agreed to help someone else commit the crime, or your assisted in the crime, even if you were not the main actor.  

This is true even if you have had your conviction sealed.  (Unlike adult felonies, you can seal Class A felonies that were committed as a juvenile).  But the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot fully restore your firearm rights if you have a sealed Class A felony.

4. You do not have any sex offenses

You cannot have any sex offense convictions on your record.  Most crimes in Washington that are classified as sex offenses are located in RCW 9A.44.  

Here are the most commonly charged 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 (if it's a felony)

The most serious sex crimes, such as rape in the first degree, are also class A felonies.  

Under RCW 9.41.040(4), sex crimes also include any felony (i.e. robbery or kidnapping) with a finding of sexual motivation.

5. 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.  

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.   

FAQ: Firearm Rights and Felony Convictions

Can I restore my firearm rights if I have multiple felony convictions?

Yes.  

Your eligibility to restore your firearm rights under RCW 9.41.040 depends primarily on the nature of your conviction and when you were convicted.  Not the number of convictions on your record. 

In theory, you could have dozens of non-violent class B and class C felony convictions and still be eligible. 

Can I restore my firearm rights in Washington if I have felony convictions in different states?

Yes.  

The only question that matters is the type of conviction, not where your conviction took place.  

Under Washington law, a "felony" means any felony committed in Washington or any out-of-state or federal crime that is "comparable" to a felony offense if it were committed in Washington.  

This means you may have committed a "felony" under Washington law even if you committed a crime that would not be considered a felony in some other state.  

How do I know whether my out-of-state crime counts as a felony in Washington?

You have to compare the Washington felony and out-of-state crime to determine whether they are legally or factually comparable.

Legal: If the crimes have the same elements, they are legally comparable.  

Example #1In Washington, you are guilty of burglary in the second degree if you enter a "building" unlawfully to commit a crime against a person.  In California, you can be guilty of burglary for committing a crime in a variety of enclosed structures, including a building.  

Therefore, burglary crimes in Washington and California are not legally comparable.  

Factual: Even if the crimes are not legally comparable, they may be factually comparable.  This means your actual criminal conduct in another state would have violated the Washington statute

Example #2: You have a conviction for burglary in California.  At trial, the government presented evidence that broke into a building and you assaulted someone.  

Based on these facts, you would have been convicted of burglary in the second degree in Washington, so the crimes are factually comparable in this case.

I still owe my fines on my felony case.  Can I restore my firearm rights?

Yes. 

You do not have to complete your sentence to be eligible to restore your firearm rights.  Therefore, you do not have to pay off your fines before you file your petition.  

Do I need a certificate of discharge to restore my firearm rights?

No.  

When you complete your felony sentence, the court sends you what's called a "Certificate of Discharge."  In this document, the Court confirms that you have completed your sentence and that you have been discharged from the supervision of the Department of Corrections.   document.  

In other words, the superior court "discharges" you from its jurisdiction and you have no further obligations to the Court.

You will only receive a certificate of discharge once you have completed all of your felony conditions, but remember that under Washington law, you do not need to pay off your fines to reinstate your firearm rights.  

That's why a certificate of discharge is not required to restore your firearm rights.  

I am currently on a Deferred Prosecution.  Is that considered a pending charge?

Probably.

A deferred prosecution is an alternative to pleading guilty or going to trial.

Anyone charged with a non-felony crime is eligible for a deferred prosecution, but they come up most often in DUI cases. 

On a deferred prosecution, you have to comply with strict probation conditions, including intensive alcohol treatment, random drug tests, and in-court appearances as directed. A deferred prosecution lasts 5 years.  If you complete probation successfully, the judge will dismiss all charges.  

During the period of your deferred prosecution, you are still awaiting disposition of your case--the case will be dismissed or you be found in violation and very likely be found guilty after an abbreviated trial.  Therefore, a deferred prosecution is equivalent of a pre-sentence adjudication than a post-sentence adjudication, which means the court and prosecutors will consider the case still pending.  

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