Supreme Court of the State of Washington Clarifies that Any Five Year Conviction Free Period Meets the Statutory Requirement for Restoration of Gun Rights

Under Washington law, a person who has lost their firearm rights due to a conviction of certain felonies may petition the court to have his or her firearm rights restored after a five year period without any convictions or charges. In State of Washington v. Edgar Dennis III, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington held that a person eligible for restitution of firearm rights after five years need not prove that the five year period immediately precedes the application for restoration. If you were prohibited from possessing firearms due to a prior conviction and would like to have your right to possess a firearm reinstated, you should consult an experienced Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, in 1991, Petitioner was convicted of robbery, assault, and two felony violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, after which he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.  Petitioner was also convicted of third-degree assault in 1998. Petitioner was not convicted of any crimes for the next fifteen years. Then, in 2014, petitioner was convicted of negligent driving, which is a misdemeanor. In 2016, petitioner filed a petition for restoration of his firearm rights, without disclosing his 2014 conviction. The state objected, arguing that the law required a five year period in which the petitioner was free of convictions, which must immediately precede the petition. The court denied the petition. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that any five year period without convictions met the five-year requirement set forth under the law. The court denied the motion, after which the petitioner appealed. The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling, after which petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington.

Ruling of the Supreme Court of The State of Washington

On appeal, the court found in favor of the petitioner, ruling that the five year period without any conviction or charges did not have to immediately precede the petition. The court noted that nothing in the applicable statute stated the period must be immediately preceding the petition and declined to add words to an unambiguous law. The court further noted that if the legislature had intended the five year period to immediately precede the petition it would or should have included language to that effect. As such, the court declined to read any language into the statute. The court reversed the appellate court ruling and held that in a case involving a prior class C conviction, any five year period in which the petitioner was free of convictions or charges met the statutory requirement.

Retain a Seasoned Washington Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing weapons charges, you should confer with a seasoned weapons charge defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and what defenses may be available to you. The skilled criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith and White have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you obtain a successful outcome. Contact our offices at 253-203-1645 or via the online form to set up a consultation.

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