The right to possess a gun and the process for restoring the right to possess a gun, in Washington State is often misunderstood. In Washington State, a person's civil rights are restored after all sentence conditions are satisfied and probation ends.
For a felony conviction, civil rights are restored when a document called a Certificate of Discharge is filed with the court. However, this does not restore the right to possess a gun or any type of firearm. The right to possess a firearm is separate and must be specifically restored by a court.
Similarly, having a criminal conviction expunged does not restore the right to possess a gun. In fact, when a court expunges a criminal conviction the Order specifically states the right to possess a firearm is not restored.
In Washington State, there are 5 steps, or criteria, that must be satisfied to restore your right to possess a gun.
1. To be eligible to restore your right to possess a firearm, you cannot have any criminal charges pending against you. This means if you are currently charged with any crime in a court in Washington State, a federal court, or a court in any other state, you are ineligible to have your right to possess a gun restored.
2. The required amount of time has passed.
Your right to possess a firearm can be restored in Washington State if at least five consecutive years have passed without being convicted of any crime. The five-year period applies if the conviction that suspended your right to possess a firearm was a class B or class C felony. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor that suspended your right to possess a gun, then three years must pass before you can have your right restored.
3. You were not convicted of a crime that permanently prohibits you from possessing a firearm.
Convictions for certain crimes take away your right to possess a gun permanently. In Washington State, if you were convicted of a class A felony (most serious), you cannot have your firearm possession right restored.
Additionally, if you were convicted of a crime in another state or in federal court that would constitute a class A felony in Washington State, or which has a maximum sentence of twenty years or longer, Washington State law does not permit your gun rights to be restored.
The last category is sex crimes. If you have a conviction for an offense classified as a sex crime under Washington law, then a Washington State court will not restore your right to possess a gun or other firearm.
4. There is no court order currently in force that prohibits you from possessing a firearm.
Conviction of a crime is not the only means by which your right to possess a gun in Washington State can be taken away. Some criminal court orders, and certain civil court orders such as a domestic violence protection order, will prohibit possessing a gun.
5. You have never been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for treatment.
If you were ever committed to a mental health facility without your consent, then you are not eligible to have your right to possess a firearm restored in Washington State.
As you can see, you can have your right to possess a gun restored in Washington State if you meet the criteria. In most cases, these 5 steps take only a few weeks to complete.