Washington law sets forth specific laws on how to legally carry a gun while in a vehicle. In general, it is a criminal offense if you have a loaded gun in a vehicle unless you have a valid license to carry a concealed gun, the gun is in your possession, you’re in the vehicle at all times, or if you’re away from the vehicle, the gun is locked inside the vehicle. The failure to follow these rules constitutes a misdemeanor offense, punishable by jail time and/or a fine. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you are facing any type of criminal charge involving a weapon or firearm.
What are the Washington Laws on Carrying a Gun in a Vehicle?
RCW 9.41.050 is the Washington statute that sets forth the rules on carrying a gun in a vehicle. According to these laws, it is a crime for you to carry a loaded pistol in a vehicle unless:
- You have a license to carry a concealed pistol,
- You carry the pistol on your person, and
- You remain in the vehicle at all times that the pistol is inside.
If you have a loaded pistol in a vehicle and you are outside the car, then you must keep the pistol locked in the vehicle and concealed from view.
Note that if you are 18 years of age or older and are carrying an unloaded pistol in a vehicle, then it is a crime if you leave the pistol in the vehicle without first locking it up and keeping it concealed from view.
What are the Penalties?
A failure to follow the above rules is a misdemeanor offense (as opposed to a felony). The crime is punishable by:
- Imprisonment for up to 90 days in jail, and/or,
- A fine of up to $1,000.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. You have the right to challenge any charges related to carrying a pistol in a vehicle with a legal defense. A common defense is to go through each of the above elements and show that you complied with the law at all times you were either within or outside your vehicle.
Another common defense in these cases is to show that the police found your gun after either:
- Stopping you without probable cause, or
- Conducting an unlawful search and seizure.
In either of these cases, a judge may agree to dismiss your case or reduce your charge to a lesser offense.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a concealed carry 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 misdemeanor charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these 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!