Can WA Law Remove Guns from People Charged with These Crimes?
I saw this question posed on Twitter and I honestly did not know the answer. "Does Washington State have laws requiring the removal or surrender of firearms from people with domestic violence charges, convictions, and/or restraining orders?"
Washington State Gun Law and Violent Crime
This is an important question that I had never thought much about even though I have lived in Washington State my entire life. The Tweet I read asked, "Does Washington State have laws requiring the removal or surrender of firearms from people with domestic violence charges, convictions, and/or restraining orders?" I did some research and the answer is kind of complex.
Washington State Gun Laws: Convicted vs Charged With Crimes
There are really two parts to this question if you are going to look from all sides. First, can your guns be removed if you are convicted of a felony in Washington State? Second, can your guns be removed if you're only charged with a crime in Washington State? There is a big difference between being charged and being convicted of a crime. How does that affect gun ownership in Washington State?
Felony Convictions and Gun Laws in Washington State
According to Washington State Law RCW 9.41.040 " if the person owns, has in his or her possession, or has in his or her control any firearm after having previously been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in this state or elsewhere of any serious offense as defined in this chapter." The law also clarifies that a conviction could be found guilty in court, pleaded guilty in court, or also with a deferred sentence. One exception is if you have vacated your conviction, then you do not have to give up your gun rights. Basically, if you are convicted of a felony in Washington State, you will lose your right to own guns. What about if you're just charged and not convicted of any crime yet?
Can Your Guns Be Removed if You're Charged with a Crime?
In Washington State, there are actually many different crimes you only need to be charged with before you lose your gun rights. All of those crimes are considered serious as defined by RCW 9.41.010 and include sex offenses, class A felonies, Class B drug felonies, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, and robbery among other charges. "(viii) If the person is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a serious offense"
Crimes Against Family Can Take Away Gun Rights in Washington State
There are crimes against family members that can also get your gun rights taken. Some examples of those would be convictions of coercion, harassment, stalking, or criminal trespass. Section C of Washington State law RCW 9.41.040 covers all areas that protect family members and what qualifies. They could be a person related to you like a brother, someone you're in a relationship with, or even a roommate according to RCW 26.50.010. Crimes against children also qualify under Washington State law.
Can You Have Your Gun Rights Returned in Washington State?
The short answer is yes, but you have to apply to have them returned after you have met certain qualifications. You can have your rights restored if you have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence but have not been convicted of any other crime in at least 3 years. If you have been convicted of a felony, you need to wait at least 5 years without any other convictions before you can apply. Any questions about the process hire a local attorney for advice.
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