One of the most overlooked and unfortunate aspects of the criminal justice system in America is that it often doesn't end at trial. If you end up getting convicted of a domestic violence charge after a trial, or even as a pretrial condition of release, the repercussions don't even stop at the fines and jail time that you might have to serve. Instead, the consequences of a charge and/or conviction will hang over your head for years afterwards. Called “collateral consequences” of a criminal conviction, these can take all sorts of shapes and forms, and can impact things from your ability to get a job or a loan to the likelihood of being a suspect in another crime.
Collateral consequences are especially severe if you have been convicted for a crime of domestic violence. One example of the collateral consequences that you could face in Washington for a domestic violence conviction involves your rights to possess or own a gun or other firearm.
Your Gun Rights During a Domestic Violence Case
Even before a conviction for domestic violence, your gun rights could be impacted. In Washington, there's a law that allows courts to require you to hand in all of your firearms, even though the case is still pending. Almost all Washington State courts impose this as a condition of your release at the first hearing, called the arraignment.
In some circumstances, you can even be required to turn over your guns in order to be released from jail after being arrested on suspicion of a crime of domestic violence. This can be especially problematic considering Washington has a law requiring police to make an arrest if they suspect a crime of domestic violence has occurred.
Both of these situations can have a huge impact on your life if you need to carry a gun for your job. If you work in the military or as a security guard, you stand the chance of losing your job because of a domestic violence arrest, even if it never turns into a conviction.
Your Gun Rights After a Domestic Violence Plea or Conviction
If you plead guilty to a crime of domestic violence, or are convicted after a trial, then your gun rights could be impacted permanently. Following a plea or conviction, you lose your ability to own a gun. Only after serving all of your jail sentence and completing probation can you petition the court to have these rights back. However, if your conviction was for a misdemeanor, then you will probably have to wait three years to file this petition. If your conviction was for a felony, then you'll have to wait no fewer than five years. Even worse, there are some felony convictions that permanently strip you of your gun rights and prevent you from ever petitioning to have them back.
Domestic Violence Representation
Washington State takes domestic violence very seriously. A conviction, or even a criminal charge prior to disposition or acquittal, for any crime of domestic violence can change your life in countless ways, including your ability to possess, use or own a gun or other firearm.
Having a criminal defense attorney fighting for you before, during, and after a trial, or other disposition of your case, can make a huge difference in the outcome. Contact the Washington-based law office of domestic violence defense attorney Phil Weinberg today by calling (425) 367-1122 or by filling out our online contact form. Attorney Phil Weinberg will aggressively safeguard your rights in any case involving Domestic Violence. If this not handled effectively, a DV conviction will often pose an obstacle to future employment and/or career advancement, acceptance into schools or the military, obtaining housing, travel abroad, immigration consequences for noncitizens, and can carry many other potentially severe, negative impacts on your life.