Are you facing a weapons charge? In Washington there are many possible weapons charges and they are all taken seriously. They can stand by themselves, such as illegal possession of a firearm, or they can be in conjunction with another criminal charge, as is the case with armed robbery. You’re understandably concerned what this will mean to your future. You are possibly upset and thinking, “Don’t I have the right to bear arms in this country?” That right does exist and Washington does uphold it but they have placed certain legal restrictions on that right.
As mentioned there are a wide variety of possible gun crimes but they fit into a few categories. The first category of weapons charges is if a gun is used to commit a crime – this can result in harsher sentencing. This is because Washington has in its laws what it calls weapons enhancers. This means that you can get sentenced for a crime and then extra time added if there was a weapon involved. Almost anything that could potentially cause harm can be raised by the prosecution as a weapon whether it was a gun, knife or even a baseball bat. They will then probably ask for a weapons enhancer to be attached. If the weapon was a gun it is rather difficult to claim it was anything other than a weapon – in fact firearms have a longer enhancement than any other weapon. The extra time will be added to the end of whatever other sentence is faced and will not be able to be reduced. There are, in fact, people who have spent more time in jail due to the weapons enhancement than they were sentenced for the actual crime.
The extra time of the enhancement depends on the severity of the crime charged. If it was a class C felony the extra time would be six months for any weapon or eighteen months for a gun. If it was a class B felony the additional time would be one or three years. If it was a class A felony then the extra time would be two or five years. You will need a defense attorney who can defend against both the original crime charged and who can fight the weapons enhancement..
The next category would be licensing issues such as owning an unregistered gun or concealing one without a license to do so; these are misdemeanors with penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. There are weapons that are completely illegal in Washington such as machine guns, short-barreled shotgun or rifle, slingshots, and switchblades. Owning some of these is considered a gross misdemeanor while others are even considered felonies and would come with prison time and fines.
The last category of weapons charges applies to you if you have a previous felony conviction. If you do it is illegal for you to have a firearm. If you’re found with one, it’s a felony with 1-43 months in jail and fines that can be several thousands of dollars. These are the reasons you want a defense attorney; you do not want to face this alone. You also don’t want to give up. Just because you have a criminal record does not make it illegal for you to defend yourself. Were you in a situation where you needed to and a weapon was in the vicinity? This can be a defense.
There are options for an attorney to defend you. We would investigate how the firearm was discovered by law enforcement. We will examine whether the search and seizure was fully carried out legally. If it was not we may be able to get the charge dropped. Also, please consider what the reason you had a gun was. Were you in legitimate fear for your life? If this can be shown, it may at least provide grounds for a lighter sentence. We will contend for you. We will get you the best result possible.
You need a criminal defense attorney who can counsel you as to your best strategy and defend your rights – including your gun rights. That is what you will have when you choose Smith & White, PLLC to defend your case as your Pierce County / Tacoma defense attorney. Call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consultation is free.