It is a serious crime under Washington law if a person steals, or commits a theft of, any firearm. This form of theft is a felony offense punishable by up to a decade in state prison. If you or a loved one is facing a Washington theft charge, it is critical to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney now for assistance.
What is Theft of a Firearm Under WA Law?
RCW 9A.56.300 is the Washington statute that set forth the offense of theft of a firearm. According to this law, it is a crime for a person “if he or she commits a theft of any firearm.” The term “firearm” under this code section is broadly defined and includes both automatic firearms and antique firearms.
Under Washington criminal laws, a person commits theft if they do any of the following with the intent of depriving another of their property or services:
- wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another,
- obtain control over the property or services of another by using deception, or
- appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another.
Note that the value of the stolen firearm has no relevance under this statute. That is, a person is guilty of taking a firearm regardless of the value of the firearm taken in the theft. Further, each firearm taken under this section is a separate offense that warrants a separate punishment or penalty.
What are the Penalties?
Theft of a firearm is a Class B felony under Washington law (as opposed to a misdemeanor). The crime is punishable by:
- A maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and/or
- A maximum fine of $20,000.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Fortunately, defendants accused of stealing a firearm can challenge the accusation with a legal defense. A common defense is for an accused to show that he/she did not commit a “theft” of a firearm. Recall that theft has a precise meaning under Washington law, and defendants are not guilty under this code section if their actions do not fit into this given definition. For example, a person is not guilty of “theft” if he/she accidentally took possession of a firearm with no intent to steal it.
Further, an accused can try and prove that the police violated one of his/her constitutional rights. Maybe, for instance, the police arrested the accused without probable cause. In such an instance, a judge may decide to reduce or dismiss a charge because of the violation.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a theft charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced theft attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on all forms of theft charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!