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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 under RCW 9.41.040(4). 

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

1. There are no pending criminal charges against you

You cannot be currently charged with a crime in any jurisdiction.

This includes any case in Washington or any other state.  This also includes federal court or tribal court.  

Only criminal charges count.  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 five (5) or more 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 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.

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.

4. You do not have any sex offenses

You cannot restore your firearm rights if you have any sex offense convictions.  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 (if it's a felony)

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

This also includes any felony (i.e. robbery or kidnapping) with a finding of sexual motivation.

5. Your felony convictions have washed out

Every single one of your felony convictions must wash out before you can successfully restore your firearm rights in Washington.

A conviction "washes out" once you have gone a specified period of time without committing any new crimes.  The wash-out period begins when you are released from custody and stops on the date of any new criminal offense.

You do not have to finish probation or complete all the conditions of your felony sentence for the wash-out period to begin.  

The wash out period for Class C felonies is 5 years.  The wash out period for Class B felonies is 10 years.  Class A felonies and sex offenses never wash out.  

Example #1You are convicted of a class B felony in 2004 and you are released from prison in 2009..  You petition to restore your firearm rights in 2020.  You are eligible because your class B felony washed out in 2019.

Example #2You are convicted of a class C felony in 2012.  You are released from prison in 2014 but you don't complete probation until 2018.  You petition to restore your firearm rights in 2020.  You are eligible.  Your class C felony washed out in 2019 (i.e. 5 years after you were released from prison).  

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 nature of your convictions, not where your crimes took place.

To see whether you are eligible, you have to determine whether your out-of-state, non-Washington felony conviction is most similar to a class A, class B, or class C felony in Washington.  

Legally speaking, you have to engage in what's called a comparability analysis.

This can be difficult and time-consuming, because states define the same crimes differently, sometimes a lot differently. 

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. 

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" document.  This document confirms that you have done everything you were supposed to do--served your jail time, completed probation, paid your fines.  

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. 

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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