Unlawful Possession of Firearm in Washington State

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 How is Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Defined in Washington State?

There are several factors that determine when an individual is committing the offense of criminal possession of a weapon. Criminal possession of a weapon, in its most basic terms, is the unlawful possession of a weapon, often a firearm, by an individual. The terms and definitions may vary by jurisdiction.

It is important to have an understanding of the definition of possession for this legal concept. Possession is not simply when an individual has the item on their person. Possession occurs when an individual has immediate physical contact with an object or when they exercise dominion and control over that object.  An individual can be said to be legally in possession of a firearm simply if it is inside their home, even if they cannot reach it at the time.

State laws vary regarding what weapons are deemed illegal and what can lead to criminal charges. It is important to note that certain individuals, such as felons, are often prohibited by law from owning any type of weapon, specifically firearms.

As previously noted, the possession of a weapon may be illegal depending on the laws of the state and the individual involved. Some general examples of circumstances in which possession of a weapon may be deemed illegal include:

    • When possession of the weapon itself is illegal, such as sawed-off shotguns or military grade weapons that are illegal for members of the general public to possess;


    • If the individual in possession of the weapon is prohibited from having any weapons, such as a felon; or 


    • When a particular jurisdiction prohibits either possessing a specific kind of weapon or having any weapons at all. 


Charges of criminal possession of a weapon may lead to serious legal consequences. The resulting punishments largely depend on the laws of the jurisdiction and the facts of the specific case. The penalties may include jail time, criminal fines, and probation.

In general, gun possession may be unlawful for various reasons, such as when an individual is a convicted felon and not legally allowed to own a gun. In Washington State, an individual can be arrested for several different crimes involving unlawful gun possession, depending on the circumstances of their case.

I’m a Convicted Felon, Will I be Arrested for Firearm Possession in Washington State?

Yes, a felon in possession of a firearm in Washington State will be arrested for firearm possession. In Washington State, individuals who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses are not legally permitted to possess a firearm. 

Any individual who has been convicted of a felony and caught with a firearm in their possession can be arrested and charged with unlawful firearm possession. A felony is a criminal offense that results in a prison term of one year or more. 

Felony crimes typically involve violence and are considered harmful or dangerous to society. They include some of the most serious crimes an individual can commit, such as murder.

I’m Not a Convicted Felon, so Why Was I Arrested on a Gun Charge?

An individual may also be arrested in Washington State on gun charges if they are not felons if they violate the state requirements for carrying a gun. In Washington State, it is illegal to possess a gun if the individual does not have a license to carry a firearm. 

In Washington State, open carry of a gun is legal without a permit but is uncommon. An individual will need a permit if they wish to carry a handgun in a vehicle, including cars, busses, and trains. 

The permit to carry a gun is called a concealed carry permit. These permits are issued to residents and non-residents by their local police department or sheriff’s office. An individual must be 21 years of age or older and meet other requirements in order to obtain a concealed carry permit. 

It is also important to note that just because an individual has a concealed carry permit in one state does not mean it will be considered valid in another. For example, Washington State honors the concealed carry permits of 9 other states. 

This is known as reciprocity. Because of this issue, it is always important for an individual with a concealed carry permit to check before entering another state to see if their permit will be honored.

What Does Carrying a Concealed Firearm Charge Mean?

An individual carries a concealed firearm when they have the firearm on their person, it is concealed, but they do not have a license to carry it. It is important to note that the concealed carry law can also be violated if the weapon is concealed in a vehicle or home. Violation of the concealed carry law is a misdemeanor.

Legally, a concealed weapon is a weapon that is hidden on an individual’s body. As noted above, the definition may also include a weapon under their control but not on their physical body, such as in the glove box or under a seat. In most cases, when someone refers to a concealed weapon, they are referring to a gun.

Generally, carrying a concealed weapon is a crime unless the individual is a law enforcement officer or has a permit to carry the weapon. The laws governing concealed carry are complex and often change. This is because each state in the United States and the District of Columbia have their own specific laws regarding the permit process for concealed weapons.

In addition, court decisions and local elections may result in changes to the laws that affect who may carry a concealed weapon. Because of these issues, it is important to consult with a local attorney and the local laws of each state an individual will visit.

What are the Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Gun in Washington State?

Unlawful possession of a gun in Washington State is considered a Class B felony. An individual convicted of this offense can face up to 10 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $20,000. If an individual is convicted of unlawful carrying of a concealed firearm, they may face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

A Class B felony is a serious charge. It applies to severe crimes but those that are not the most serious of all crimes. Felony convictions can result in severe penalties including long prison terms, parole or probation, and a permanent criminal record. 

Having a felony on an individual’s record can have life-long consequences. It can make it difficult for the individual to find employment, gain custody of children, and can prohibit them from rights such as gun ownership and voting. In addition, if they are convicted of subsequent crimes, the previous felony conviction may result in punishment that is more severe than the previous punishment imposed.

Should I Contact a Washington Lawyer about My Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Charge?

Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of an experienced Washington criminal lawyer for your unlawful possession of a firearm charge. As previously discussed, the laws regarding guns are complex and ever-changing. They also vary by state. For these reasons, it is essential to have the help of an attorney who can advise you of the local laws, explain possible outcomes of your case, and represent you during any court proceedings.

Law Library Disclaimer


16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer