Domestic Violence, Protection Orders, and Firearms Rights
There is no Washington law that requires firearms or ammunition to be removed from the scene of a domestic violence incident. However, if you are a military service member who is charged with domestic violence, the charge could affect your ability to carry arms and have a successful career. It is especially crucial to retain an experienced attorney if you are concerned about restrictions on your ability to carry arms affecting your livelihood. The Tacoma domestic violence lawyers at Smith & White understand the issues related to domestic violence, protection orders, and firearms rights.The Impact of Domestic Violence Convictions on Firearms Rights
Domestic violence occurs when crimes are committed against family or household members. These are spouses, ex-spouses, people parenting a child in common, blood relatives, relatives by marriage, people living together who are at least 16, or people with a biological or legal parent-child relationship.
The court will take away your right to possess a firearm if you are convicted of domestic violence. This is a permanent removal unless you successfully petition the court for reinstatement of the right. There is no exception for people who need to carry firearms for a job. In other words, you can have your right to carry firearms removed, even if you are a police officer or a military service member. Under RCW 9.41.047, the court is supposed to let you know in writing and verbally of your duty to surrender a concealed pistol license.
If you are subject to a protective order that restrains you from stalking, threatening, or harassing an intimate partner or their child, you are also not allowed to possess a gun in Washington. The protective order must have been issued after a hearing for which notice was given, and you must represent a credible threat to your intimate partner or their child. The protective order can be a sexual assault protection order, a domestic violence protection order, a restraining order in a situation in which parental rights and child support were adjudicated, an anti-stalking protection order, an anti-harassment protection order, or a no-contact order for this law to apply. Intimate partners in Washington are spouses, former spouses, domestic partners, co-parents, or current or former dating partners with whom you have lived. This law also requires the court to prohibit you from buying or possessing firearms or a concealed carry license. You are supposed to surrender your firearms or licenses and file a proof that you surrendered them with the court.Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree
Under RCW 9.41.040, you can be found guilty of the crime of illegal possession of a firearm in the first degree if you own, have in your possession, or have in your control any firearm after first having been convicted in Washington or elsewhere. This is a class B felony. You can face up to 10 years in a state correctional institution and be fined up to $20,000.
You can be found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm in the second degree if you are found in possession of a firearm and have been convicted in Washington or anywhere else of certain crimes perpetrated by one family or household member against another. These include fourth-degree assault, stalking, coercion, reckless endangerment, first-degree criminal trespass, or violating provisions of a protection or no-contact order. This is a Class C felony. You can face up to five years in a state correctional institution or be fined up to $10,000, or both. Since this type of illegal possession of a firearm is related to domestic violence, you will also be subject to the removal of your right to carry firearms. There is no exception for people who use weapons as part of their job, so if you are a police officer or a military service member, the conviction can force you to change your career.Extreme Risk Protection Order
Sometimes victims seek out extreme risk protection orders against people who perpetrate domestic violence against them by using a weapon. These are orders obtained by family or household members to stop someone who is at high risk of harming them from having access to firearms if they can show that the person presents a substantial danger. The police can also get this type of court order.Explore Your Options with a Tacoma Attorney
If you were charged with domestic violence and rely on firearms for your career, your future may depend on your hiring a skillful criminal defense lawyer. Based in Tacoma, Smith & White represents people throughout Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or complete our online form.