The lawyers at Ashbach Law Offices, LLC provide aggressive, strong defense for those charged with Weapons and Firearms allegations throughout Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Our goal is to aggressively protect you, your family and your interests from the prosecution, saving jail time, licenses, occupations and reputations. With offices in Marysville and Mill Creek, Washington, we are available to meet you discuss your case. We help good people in bad situations. Let us help you.
The Washington State Constitution has a “right to bear arms” provision that is broader than that of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Regardless, courts have held that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to reasonable regulation. Nevertheless, Constitutional and self-defense challenges may apply to commonly charged allegations involving firearms and other “dangerous weapons.”
Note on Enhancements
Not addressed here are sentence enhancements for most felonies that involved the use of a firearm and deadly weapon. These enhancements often add years of confinement to prison sentences.
Possession of a Dangerous Weapon
The Possession of a Dangerous Weapon statute sets out three ways in which it is illegal to possess a dangerous weapon. “Dangerous weapon” is not defined, so is given its ordinary meaning.
This statute says it is unlawful to:
a) manufacture, sell, dispose of, or have in one’s possession any weapon or instrument known as a slung shot (not slingshot), sand club, metal knuckles or spring blade knife, or
b) furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol or other dangerous weapon or
c) use any contrivance or device for suppressing the noise of any firearm unless the suppressor is legally registered and possessed in accordance with federal law
Possession of a Dangerous Weapon is a Gross Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5000 fine. Most sentencing courts require forfeiture of the weapon upon conviction.
A similar charge is Possession Dangerous Weapons on School Facilities, which criminalizes bringing any weapon on school grounds, punishable as a Gross Misdemeanor.
Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
RCW 9.41.230 makes it unlawful to willfully discharge any firearm, air gun or other weapon, or throw any deadly missile 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.
Setting up a so-called trap, spring pistol, rifle or other dangerous weapon, even if no injury results, is also made illegal by this statute.
Unlawful Display of a Dangerous Weapon
Unlawful Display of a Dangerous Weapon is the carrying, exhibition, displaying or drawing a certain type of weapon in a manner that under the circumstances manifests an intent to intimidate another or warrants alarm for the safety of others.
The list of weapons referenced includes any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm.
Conviction of this offense results in a loss of concealed weapons permit.
Defenses to this statute include when the alleged activity involves:
a) any act committed by a person while in his or her place of abode or fixed place of business
b) any person who by virtue of his or her office or public employment is 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
c) any person acting for the purpose of protecting himself or herself against the use of presently threatened unlawful force by another, or for the purpose of protecting another against the use of such unlawful force by a third person
d) any person making or assisting in making a lawful arrest for the commission of a felony, or
e) any person engaged in military activities sponsored by the federal or state governments
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm can be chargeable in either First or Second Degree. Both are Felonies.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm First Degree is the ownership, or possession, or having in one’s control, a firearm after being convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity) in Washington or any other state, of a “serious offense.” RCW 9.41.010(18) defines what a “serious offense” is.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm First Degree is a Class B Felony.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Second Degree is the ownership, or possession, or having in one’s control, a firearm after being convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity) of any felony not listed as a “serious offense,” or certain domestic violence crimes. Also included in Second Degree is possession after a civil mental commitment, possession by a person under 18, or possession during the pendency of a “serious offense” case.
In many instances, the right to possess a firearm may be restored after a period of time has elapsed.
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC, aggressively represents clients throughout the Washington I-5 corridor, covering Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Regular courts of practice include, but are not limited to, Anacortes, Arlington, Bellevue, Bellingham, Blaine, Burlington, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrance, Redmond, Seattle, Sedro Woolley and Shoreline.