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Washington’s criminal laws generally say that, unless an exception applies, you must be at least 18 to 21 years of age to purchase and possess a gun. A violation of these laws could result in exposure to Washington’s juvenile or adult criminal court process and involve jail time or probation. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one has been charged with a gun or weapons related crime.
What is Washington’s Law on the Legal Age to Possess a Gun?
RCW 9.41.240 is the Washington statute that sets forth the age requirements regarding the possession and purchase of firearms. According to this law, you must be at least 21 years of age to lawfully purchase or possess a pistol, rifle, shotgun, or semi-automatic assault rifle.
Note that people 18 to 21 years of age can legally possess a pistol, rifle, or shotgun, but only under the following circumstances:
- In the person’s place of abode,
- At the person’s place of business, or
- On real property under the person’s control.
There are some exceptions, however, to this general rule. This means a person under the age of 18 can legally possess a pistol, rifle, or shotgun if:
- In attendance at a hunter’s safety course or a firearms safety course,
- Practicing in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited,
- Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm,
- Hunting or trapping with a valid hunting license,
- Traveling with any unloaded firearm in the person’s possession to or from any activity described above,
- On real property under the control of his or her parent, other relative, or legal guardian and who has the permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a firearm, or
- Is a member of the armed forces of the United States, national guard, or organized reserves, when on duty.
What are the Penalties?
The specific penalties for underage possession of a gun will largely depend on the facts of your case.
Many juvenile offenders will become subject to Washington’s juvenile court process. Penalties in juvenile court can range from a warning to fines and possible probation.
Severe cases can get handled in adult court where offenders could get punished with fines and jail time.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. You have the right to challenge an underaged gun possession charge with a legal defense. One of the most common defense is to show that you fall within one of the exceptions to the general rule that probits possession to those under the age of 18 to 21.
Another common defense is for your criminal defense attorney to show that the police somehow violated your rights. For example, it may be the case that the authorities:
- Arrested you without probable cause,
- Coerced a confession, or
- Conducted an unlawful search and seizure.
If any of the above, then a defense lawyer could move to get your charge reduced or even dropped altogether.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a gun possession charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various guns and weapons charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!