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State v. Harrison

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

June 3, 2014

The State of Washington, Respondent,
v.
Hal Roger Harrison, Appellant

Appeal from Ferry Superior Court. Docket No: 11-1-00013-3. Date filed: 08/31/2012. Judge signing: Honorable Allen C Nielson.

Hal Roger Harrison, pro se.

David N. Gasch (of Gasch Law Office ), for appellant.

Michael Sandona, Prosecuting Attorney, for respondent.

AUTHOR: Laurel H. Siddoway, C.J. George B. Fearing, J. concurs. Stephen M. Brown, J. (dissenting).

OPINION

Siddoway, C.J.

[181 Wn.App. 578] ¶ 1 Hal Harrison appeals his conviction for second degree unlawful possession of a firearm,

Page 801

which was predicated on a 1987 felony conviction in the state of California. Before trial, Mr. Harrison moved to dismiss the felon in possession charge because the Washington statute criminalizing an ex-felon's possession of a firearm does not apply " if the conviction has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of the rehabilitation of the person convicted." RCW 9.41.040(3). Mr. Harrison presented a 1993 certificate of rehabilitation issued by a California superior court.

¶ 2 The State opposed the motion, pointing out that under California law the certificate of rehabilitation operates as a recommendation that the Governor issue a pardon but is not sufficient in itself to restore the right to possess firearms in California. The trial court denied the motion. A jury thereafter found Mr. Harrison guilty of the charge.

¶ 3 The exception to the crime of felon in possession for a rehabilitated ex-felon does not turn on whether his right to possess firearms has been restored in some other jurisdiction; it turns on whether there has been a judicial finding of rehabilitation that satisfies Washington law. The procedure required to obtain Mr. Harrison's California certificate of rehabilitation qualifies for the exception provided by RCW 9.41.040(3). We reverse Mr. Harrison's conviction of second degree unlawful possession of a firearm and remand with directions to dismiss the charge.

[181 Wn.App. 579] ANALYSIS

¶ 4 Little discussion of the facts leading to the State's several charges filed against Mr. Harrison in May 2011 is required. He raises only one issue on appeal: whether the trial court erred in concluding that his certificate of rehabilitation issued under California Penal Code § 4852.13(a) was insufficient to support his pretrial Knapstad [1] motion to dismiss the State's charge of second degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

¶ 5 It is a crime in Washington for any person who has " previously been convicted ... in this state or elsewhere of any felony" to possess a firearm. RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(i). The statute excludes from its operation ex-felons who have been pardoned ...


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