Firearm Rights Restoration After Juvenile Offense Adjudication In Washington State

The lawyers at Platt & Buescher can help those convicted of juvenile offenses restore their rights to possess firearms.

RCW 9.41.040(4) provides the requirements for restoring the right to possess a firearm. But the relief available to juvenile offenders under RCW 13.50.050 may supplement RCW 9.41.040(4) to restore the right to possess firearms. In general, a juvenile guilty of a class A offense may be able to restore the right to possess a firearm if each of the following requirements are met:

  1. the person has spent five successive years without committing a crime;
  2. No cases are pending against the person;
  3. The person has been relieved of the sex offender registration requirement (if applicable);
  4. The person must not have been convicted of first or second degree rape or indecent liberties with forcible compulsion.
  5. Restitution has been paid in full. RCW 13.50.050(12)(a).

In general a juvenile guilty of any offense other than a class A felony (i.e. a class B or C felony, a gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor) may be able to restore the right to possess a firearm if each of the following requirements are met:

  1. the person has spent two consecutive years without committing a crime;
  2. No cases are pending against the person;
  3. The person has been relieved of the sex offender registration requirement (if applicable);
  4. Restitution has been paid in full. RCW 13.50.050(12)(b)

The requirements above are from the juvenile sealing statute—RCW 13.50.050. That statute does not mention firearms restoration. But it provides a significant amount of relief. If the court grants a motion to seal under 13.50.050, all records of the offense will be sealed and the “proceedings in the case shall be treated as if they never occurred.” RCW 13.50.050(14). The Washington State Court of Appeals has construed the relief afforded by this language to effectively restore a juvenile’s right to possess firearms. In re the Matter of Restoration of Firearm Rights of Nelson v. State, 120 Wash.App. 470 (2004). This is significant because a juvenile convicted of a class A felony or sex offense will be ineligible to restore their right to possess a firearm under RCW 9.41.040(4). But because the relief available under RCW 13.50.050 is broad and causes the prior juvenile offense to be “treated as if it never occurred,” one who obtains such relief will no longer be prohibited from possessing a firearm for purposes of 9.41.040 as a result of the prior conviction that was sealed pursuant to RCW 13.50.050. However, notwithstanding In re the Matter of Restoration of Firearm Rights of Nelson, one must make sure the requirements of RCW 9.41.040 are otherwise fulfilled (i.e. no other prohibiting criteria apply). Case law provides further guidance on the subject.

The relief available under RCW 13.50.050 should also restore the right to possess firearms on the federal level. This is because a conviction that has been expunged or set aside or is an offense for which the person has had civil rights restored is not considered a conviction that prohibits firearm possession under federal law. See, e.g., 18 USC 921(a)(20)(hanging ¶); 921(a)(33)(B)(ii).

If you have been found guilty of a juvenile offense that caused you to lose your right to possess a firearm and believe you meet the requirements of RCW 13.50.050(12) and RCW 9.41.040(4) contact Platt & Buescher Attorneys at Law at (206) 569-8630 (360) 678-6777 to talk with a firearm rights restoration lawyer serving Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, Seattle, King County, Burlington, Mt. Vernon, Skagit County, Bellingham, and Whatcom County.