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Unlawful Possession of Firearms

What is Unlawful Possession of Firearms?

Although as U.S. citizens we are guaranteed the right to bear arms, this right now comes with certain restrictions. An unlawful possession of firearms offense generally involves ownership, possession, or control of any firearm in a manner that violates the law. If you are found with a weapon that is not registered to you, or if another individual left his firearm with you or in your vehicle, you could face charges for unlawful possession of firearms. In addition, certain types of firearms are prohibited in Washington, including short barreled shotguns, machine guns, and short-barreled rifles. Also, each firearm possessed unlawfully is considered a separate offense. There are two types of unlawful possession of firearms charges in Washington State: unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree:

According to RCW §9.41.040, a person commits the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree if he owns, has in his possession, or has in his control any firearm after having previously been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in this state or elsewhere of any serious offense, which include: any crime of violence, child molestation in the second degree, leading organized crime, promoting prostitution in the first degree, rape in the third degree, drive-by shooting, sexual exploitation, vehicular assault by a person under the influence, vehicular homicide by a person under the influence, any other felony with a deadly weapon verdict, among others.

Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree in Washington:

Unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree is a class B felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $20,000, or both.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree:

According to RCW §9.41.040, a person commits the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree if it is not a first degree offense, but if he owns, has in his possession, or has in his control any firearm:

  1. After having previously been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in this state or elsewhere of any the following felonies: assault in the fourth degree, coercion, stalking, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass in the first degree, or violation of the provisions of a protection order or no-contact order restraining the person or excluding the person from a residence; OR
  2. During any period of time that the person is subject to a court order.

Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree in Washington:

Unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree is a class C felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Defending an Unlawful Possession of Firearms Charge:

There are very few ways to defend an unlawful possession of firearms charge. The primary way is to prove that your possession is not unlawful. You might demonstrate that you have a permit in another state that Washington State recognizes as valid. The offense does not require you to know that you are in possession of an unlawful weapon. Merely being caught with an unlawful weapon can lead to charges. Therefore, the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.

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