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Are Bulletproof Vests Legal in Washington State?

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Bulletproof vests and other types of body armor can help protect you against gunfire and light shrapnel from explosive devices. Many people choose to purchase bulletproof vests as personal safety devices, but some states do have laws that regulate their sales.

In Washington, most people can purchase and use a bulletproof vest. However, those who have been convicted of a felony are not allowed to use this type of body armor. 

State and Federal Laws for Bulletproof Vests

Laws for bulletproof vests can vary depending on your location. Many states use the federal statute, 18 U.S.C.A. Section 931, as the foundation for their body armor laws. 

Under this law, no person who was convicted of a violent felony can own or possess a bulletproof vest. However, exceptions apply if the person is performing a lawful business activity and his or her employer provides a written certification. 

If you use a bulletproof vest as a convicted felon, you could face a prison sentence of up to three years under this law. You could face enhanced charges if the incident involves a federal drug trafficking crime or violent crime.

Washington’s body armor laws are very similar to the federal statute. Anyone can buy a bulletproof vest online or in a store. However, people who have been convicted of a felony are prohibited from purchasing body armor. 

Are Bulletproof Vest Restrictions Legal?

Every person has the right to defend himself or herself. Bulletproof vests are meant to minimize injury from gunshots or shrapnel, limiting the risk of death or serious damage. Because many people use this armor to protect themselves while committing crimes, however, these felony restrictions are legal. 

Many people have argued otherwise, however. For example, some claim that regulating a person’s right to body armor violates his or her Second Amendment right to bear arms. However, this argument has failed. There are many situations where a state can revoke firearm rights, including after a person is convicted of a felony. 

What to Do If You Are Arrested Because of a Bulletproof Vest

If you have been convicted of a felony crime and you are arrested for wearing or purchasing a bulletproof vest, you could face criminal penalties. In these situations, it is important to remain calm and seek help as soon as possible. 

Comply with the police officers’ orders and do not attempt to argue with them. Remember, anything you say could be used against you, and you do not want to make a statement that would harm you in the future. Stay silent and ask to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.

A Washington criminal defense lawyer can provide several benefits to your case. He or she can argue for your right to wear a bulletproof vest and present evidence showing that your actions were lawful, such as a prior written certification for your lawyer.

If your actions did breach Washington’s body armor laws, your attorney can help you fight for the best possible outcome. In certain situations, he or she may be able to negotiate a plea deal to minimize potential jail time. 

Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to discuss your next steps.

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