Firearms: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
~Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Although the framers of the United States Constitution envisioned a nation where its citizens had the right to arm themselves, our government continues to preclude a prior felon’s right to bear arms and prosecute citizens in possession illegal firearms, dangerous weapons, those with prior felonies who are in possession of firearms.
Washington State has many laws restricting when citizens can possess, buy, sell, or otherwise use firearms and other weapons. Criminal convictions of lower-level firearm charges brings an automatic loss of gun rights for 1-2 years. Being convicted of domestic violence charges also brings a loss of gun rights. Fortunately, attorney Alexander Ransom is very experienced in zealously defending clients with firearms charges. He works hard to get firearm charges – and their egregious consequences – reduced or dismissed.
The following list of weapons charges are a small sample of weapons-related offenses in Washington State, many of which attorney Alexander Ransom has received reductions or dismissals on behalf of clients.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
It is unlawful for convicted felons to own or possess firearms unless their rights have been restored. Depending on their prior conviction, owning or possessing a firearm can either be a Class A or B felony exposing them from 10-20 years in prison and/or a $20,000.00 – $50,000.00 fine or a Class B felony exposing them to 10 years prison. The seriousness of this weapons charge makes it incumbent on citizens to hire competent counsel as soon as possible.
Some firearms are considered unlawful in Washington State by virtue of their design, round capacity and firepower. It’s a crime in Washington to manufacture, transport, own, buy, sell, or possess a machine gun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or any of their component parts. Committing an unlawful firearms offense is a Class C felony.
Aiming or Discharging a Firearm
Anyone who aims any firearm, whether loaded or not, at or towards any human being or willfully discharges any firearm in a public place, or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby. A public place shall not include any location at which firearms are authorized to be lawfully discharged is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
In Washington, it’s a crime to manufacture, sell, or otherwise dispose of any dangerous weapon. Dangerous weapons include slingshots, brass knuckles, sand clubs or blackjacks, and switchblade knives. It’s also illegal under this law to carry a concealed dagger, pistol, firearm, firearm silencer, or other dangerous weapon prohibited by law without a permit. Possessing or transacting dangerous weapons is a gross misdemeanor.
It is unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.
Failure to Register as a Felony Firearm Offender
As of July 28, 2013, anyone in Washington who is convicted of a felony firearms offense, or who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity of such an offense, must register at the local sheriff’s office by submitting their name, address, and other identifying information within 48 hours after being released from custody, or 48 hours after a court has imposed a felony firearm sentence. Failing to Register as a Felony Firearm Offender is a gross misdemeanor.
All firearm charges require two basic elements in order to convict. First, the Prosecutor must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the gun. Secondly, the Prosecutor must prove that the accused have “dominion and control” – or in other words, possession – of the firearm. In Washington, possession can be actual or constructive. This means that the defendant can directly exercise control, or the firearm was found on or around the defendant’s property. Alexander routinely conducts thorough investigations to see if the Prosecutor meets this basic burden of proof.
Also, one may draw one’s weapon if: (1) while in his or her home or business; (2) vested by law with a duty to preserve public safety, maintain public order, or to make arrests for offenses, while in the performance of such duty; (3) acting for the purpose of protecting himself or herself against the use of presently threatened unlawful force by another, (4) making or assisting in making a lawful arrest for the commission of a felony; and/or (5) engaged in military activities sponsored by the federal or state governments.
Finally, Washington’s search and seizure cases give procedural or substantive defenses. Alexander is extremely knowledgeable of court decisions where cases were dismissed because officers discovered firearms as a result of unlawful searches. Please review Alexander’s Legal Guide titled, “Search and Seizure: Basic Issues Regarding the Search for Weapons, Drugs and Other Contraband.” for recent case law on firearms charges. If the law supports suppression, then Alexander works hard to get the charges dismissed via pretrial motion.
If you or someone you care faces firearms charges in Skagit County or Whatcom County, call attorney Alexander Ransom today for a free, no-pressure case evaluation. Alexander has a reputation in the legal community as an aggressive, effective and experienced criminal defense attorney. He is here to assist you through these difficult times.