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A Superior Court will issue a court order restoring gun rights for an eligible person. These are the basic criteria: five years have elapsed since the date of the felony conviction, and there are no pending criminal charges or arrest warrants. And, of course, the person must not be prohibited from firearm possession due to some other factor unrelated to the old conviction, such as a mental-health commitment, or a court order that limits firearm rights, such as a protection order, restraining order, or no-contact order. In Washington, if an eligible person asks a Superior Court judge to restore firearm rights, the judge must grant the request. It’s mandatory. The judge cannot refuse the request just because the judge thinks the applicant is a bad actor. On the other side of the coin, the judge cannot grant the request of an ineligible person just because the person has a long list of accomplishments and a fistful of character references.
Expunging a felony is only the first step. You will also have to seek relief from firearm disability at both the State and Federal level. The easiest way for most people to file these petitions is to hire an attorney experienced in this type of work. Although there will be a cost to hire the attorney, most people will save a great deal of time and frustration trying to figure out the court system and the paperwork.
There are a number of steps involved in successfully petitioning to have these rights restored. These include: Filing the petition in the proper county Superior Court; Serving copies of your petition on all necessary parties; Documenting all necessary information to show that you meet the legal requirements for getting your rights restored; Scheduling hearings with a judge & filing a note for motion; Attending the scheduled court hearing; Drafting & filing a proposed order restoring firearm rights for the judge to sign; Filing a copy of the judge's signed order with the appropriate law enforcement agencies to ensure you clear future background checks; Other steps as needed.
The courts in Washington take varying times to process these types of cases, depending on many factors including how busy the court is in a particular county. You can anticipate that your case may take 3 to 6 months or longer. Every case is different. If more time has passed since your release we may be able to show how well you have been doing and that you can be a positive member of society, and this information would help your case.
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