If you’re wondering just what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership in Washington State, Findley & Rogers is here to get you the answers. We can help you better understand the law, and we may be able to get your firearm rights back.
Read on to get a better sense of what disqualifies you from owning a gun, and what you can do about it.
The list of what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership in Washington State all falls under the umbrella of “domestic violence.” Ordinarily, a misdemeanor conviction would not cost you your gun rights. This is true for both regular and gross misdemeanors, including the most common misdemeanors such as misdemeanor DUI, theft, drug possession, and trespassing.
But a finding of domestic violence on a misdemeanor conviction is different. This is what disqualifies you from owning a gun. Due to the frequent use of firearms in situations of domestic violence, not only to kill but also to threaten and maim, Washington law considers any misdemeanor domestic violence conviction to be serious enough to cause you to lose your gun rights.
To better understand what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership, let’s look at domestic violence more closely.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence isn’t a crime by itself. It’s something that gets added on to another crime, like trespassing. So when you’re thinking about what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership, what it comes down to is that a court will add a “domestic violence” finding on crimes committed against “family or household members.” This includes:
- Blood relatives, including parents, siblings, and children
- Spouses and inlaws
- Divorced spouses and their families
- Any household members
This last item is particularly important. Washington’s domestic violence laws apply not only to cohabitating romantic partners, but to anybody living together with the offender, including work buddies, college roommates, and long-term guests. If violence occurs between any two people living together, the police are required by law to arrest anyone suspected of committing it.
The legal definition of domestic violence in Washington is broader than you might think, and so is the list of what disqualifies you from owning a gun.
The Full List of What Misdemeanors Prohibit Gun Ownership
With that in mind, here are the misdemeanors under state law that are eligible for a finding of domestic violence:
1. Assault in the Fourth Degree or Simple Assault – Domestic Violence
This includes any act of violence that doesn’t rise to the level of a felony. It can potentially involve acts such as pulling hair, spitting, or throwing objects.
2. Coercion – Domestic Violence
Coercion is forcing somebody to do something they don’t want to do, or forcing them not to do something that they do want. In the context of domestic violence this can include forcing someone to stay away from their friends or perform work.
3. Stalking – Domestic Violence
Stalking involves following, engaging with, or otherwise harassing a person who does not wish the contact. When it comes to what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership, this is one of the most common.
4. Reckless Endangerment – Domestic Violence
In Washington State, reckless endangerment is most often a vehicular crime. It includes any action involving a vehicle which “creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.”
5. Criminal Trespass in the First Degree or Second Degree – domestic violence (DV)
Trespassing is pretty straightforward. In domestic violence situations, it can occur whenever the offender does not have the legal right to enter a property or premises where a family or household member is.
6. Violation of Court Order – Domestic Violence
Violating a court restraining order, known in Washington as a “protection order,” is another common item on the list of what disqualifies you from owning a gun.
7. Interfering with Reporting Domestic Violence – Domestic Violence
Under the law, interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is itself an act of domestic violence, as it prevents victims from escaping their situation.
8. Harassment – Domestic Violence- After June 7, 2018
In 2018 Washington State made a conviction for misdemeanor Harassment DV a firearm disqualification. If your conviction was prior to June 2018, that conviction should not impact your firearm rights.
Federal Domestic Violence Convictions
Most domestic violence is prosecuted under state law, but sometimes it can be prosecuted by the federal government. The list of what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership is very similar in both systems, but one critical difference between state and federal cases is that federal law does not provide for the restoration of firearm rights lost due to a domestic violence conviction.
What this means is that, unlike a state conviction, a federal domestic violence conviction really will cost you your gun rights for life. If you have questions about this, we’ll be glad to help you better understand your situation.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Descamps, Washington State’s misdemeanor DV convictions do not qualify as DV convictions for purposes of the federal law, with some exceptions. As such it is only necessary to restore your rights in Washington State if you have a Washington State DV misdemeanor conviction.
Other Ways to Lose Your Gun Rights
We hope this helps you better understand what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership. However, there are many other ways to lose your gun rights as well. Some of the most common examples of what disqualifies you from owning a gun are:
- Any felony conviction
- A finding of ‘not guilty’ by reason of insanity
- Involuntary commitment to a mental health facility
- Drug addiction (potentially)
The full list of what disqualifies you from owning a gun is much longer. You can see it in our blog article “10 Things That Could Result in You Losing Your Firearm Rights.”
Restore Your Gun Rights with Findley & Rogers
Now that you know what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership, it’s time to take the next steps.
Our law firm specializes in helping people like you take control of your life and escape the burden of old criminal convictions. Having a criminal record can do more than just cost you your gun rights. It can make it harder to rent a house, get a job, and apply for loans. It can even hurt your standing in the community.
Many of our clients are folks who made a mistake in the past and have long since moved on. They don’t know the legal system or that they can restore these lost rights. Learning what disqualifies you from owning a gun is the first step to taking back your rights.
Get a Free Consultation
Contact our team of legal experts today for a free consultation to discuss your situation and learn your options. If you have any more questions about what misdemeanors prohibit gun ownership, we’ll be glad to answer.
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