A Washington criminal conviction can have significant and lasting consequences. Convictions may result in greater sentences for subsequent offenses, the loss of firearm rights, and the loss of voting rights. In some circumstances, some rights may be restored. In a recent case, a man who had lost his firearm rights following a felony conviction was denied restoration based on a prior misdemeanor possession conviction.
According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the petitioner was convicted of misdemeanor possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana under former RCW 69.50.401(e), a strict liability offense, in 2003. The following year, he pleaded guilty to felony manufacturing methamphetamine. The judgment and sentence stated the maximum penalty was 10 years and did not list his prior conviction. The petitioner lost the right to use or possess firearms as a result of the 2004 felony conviction.
The petitioner sought restoration of his firearm rights in 2020. The state argued he was not eligible for restoration because the maximum sentence should have been 20 years instead of the state 10 years. The state argued the 2003 conviction automatically triggered the doubling provision of RCW 69.50.408. RCW 69.50.408 allows the doubling of a sentence for a conviction under Chapter 69.50, the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, if the defendant had a prior conviction under Chapter 69.50 or a federal or another state’s law related to narcotics, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, or hallucinogenic drugs.