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Misconduct Involving Weapons

Gun and weapon crimes, including misconduct involving weapons, are punished harshly in Arizona. Due to the possible violence involved and the provocative headlines that firearm cases create in our media platforms, District attorneys investigate and prosecute these kinds of situations aggressively. Judges handle the charges strictly as well. 

While the state is against you, we at the Phoenix Criminal Attorney are on your side and fight to achieve a favorable outcome. We know that misunderstandings happen all the time, and you could be wrongfully accused. You are innocent until proven guilty. Thus, given our experience, we strive to show the judge that you are innocent and should not be convicted. Call us as soon as you’re charged for legal advice, evaluating your case, and embarking on developing the best possible defense.

Overview of the Arizona Misconduct Involving Law

Before looking into the laws and consequences concerning weapons and specific functions, it’s critical to understand the definition of various terms related to this topic.

  • Prohibited weapons: A prohibited weapon is any completely illegal weapon as per the Arizona statute. They include shot barrel shotguns, grenades, bombs, silencers or suppressors, Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D), nunchakus, and Molotov cocktails, fully-automatic firearms, poison gas, bursting gas bombs, combinations, and rockets.
  • Deadly weapons: These are weapons meant for lethal use, for instance, firearms.
  • Explosives: Nitroglycerine, plastic explosives, black powder, or dynamite.
  • Firearms: A firearm is any unloaded or loaded pistol, shotgun, rifle, gun, or other devices designed for expelling a projectile.

The crime of misconduct that involves weapons is described under Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 13-3102. This crime is commonly charged when an individual allegedly uses any weapon in the commission of an offense, or an illegal weapon possessor is found guilty of a felony that prohibits them from possessing or carrying a weapon.

Whether in Phoenix or any other place in Arizona, misconduct involving a weapon happens in several ways. Therefore, it’s best to consult an experienced defense lawyer when you face charges to review your legal options and build a defense strategy. Specifically, ARS 13-3102 prohibits knowingly:

  • Providing or selling: If you are caught selling or providing a firearm to another person who plans to execute a felony, you can face charges of misconduct involving a weapon.
  • Failing to answer to a police officer: Misconduct involving weapons can also happen if you fail to reply to an officer of the law when you’re asked if you’re carrying any concealed weapon.
  • Carrying or transportation: If you transport a deadly, concealed weapon on a vehicle or which is in your immediate control, you can face these charges. Here, deadly, concealed weapons don’t include pocket knives or other less dangerous weapons.
  • Manufacturing or transporting: If you are caught transporting, transferring, manufacturing, selling, or possessing an illegal weapon, you can be prosecuted under ARS 13-3102 law.
  • Prohibited possessors: You can’t possess a prohibited or deadly weapon if you are considered an unlawful possessor. An illegal possessor is a person who has been considered a danger to themselves or others or is disabled/gravely disabled as per the statute, and whose legal rights to own or possess a gun, state laws haven't been reinstated. 
  • Defacing deadly weapons: It is considered unlawful to deface deadly weapons or possess one knowing that it’s been sawed off (a case scenario here is removing the weapon’s serial number).
  • Not removing the weapon: If you enter a public event or establishment and continue carrying the weapon once you are requested to give it over, you could face these charges.
  • Prior felony charges: Previous convictions may also lead to a violation of ARS 13-3102.
  • Carrying a concealed, deadly weapon or be in control of one, and you are below twenty-one years old.
  • Possession of dry ice to use a weapon, including selling, transferring, transporting, or selling it.

Severe Crimes of Misconduct Involving Weapons

The most severe charges for this specific situation is discharging a firearm at an occupied building or any other structure or doing so in the furtherance of gang activities. Another severe charge of misconduct involving a weapon is using your weapon to commit any terrorist act.

Note that whereas most ARS 13-3102 law violations involve guns, you can still be prosecuted under this statute even if you trafficked explosives for any gain or entered a hydroelectric generation station while having a weapon on your person, as we have seen. Using modified weapons like defaced firearms or sawed-off shotgun may also be the grounds for charges under this law. A person is also prosecuted under ARS 13-3102 when they knowingly bring a deadly weapon in a restricted area like a courthouse, school, or airport.

Prohibited Possession in Detail

For ARS 13-3102 purposes, prohibited possessors are individuals who, under the law, are forbidden from possessing a deadly weapon, illegal weapon, or firearm. If you are in any of these classes and are caught with a deadly weapon, you can face charges under ARS 13-3102. Prohibited possession is the most prevalent conduct charged under this law. There are six main classifications of individuals deemed prohibited possessors:

  • Court Order: A person is prohibited from having a deadly/prohibited weapon if the court issued an order precluding them from doing so. A court may order a person to be forbidden from possessing a weapon when they’re considered a threat to others or themselves, or if they have a grave, acute, or persistent disability.
  • Parole/Probation/Work Furlough/Community Supervision: A person who has been found guilty of an offense and is presently under the court’s jurisdiction, the prosecution’s office, or probation department isn’t permitted to possess a prohibited or deadly weapon.
  • Guilty Except for Insanity: A person who has undergone a criminal court trial and has been found guilty except for insanity as per the law won’t be allowed to possess firearms.
  • Felony Conviction: When you’re found guilty of any felony offense, you lose your right to possess or own firearms. In certain situations, a person with a felony conviction doesn’t realize that he/she has lost his/her right to possess firearms until he/she is facing charges under ARS 13-3102. Another person could be using a weapon for hunting or sporting events, unaware that he/she isn’t supposed to possess any weapon. A person with a felony conviction may reinstate his/her right to possess or own a gun, but until this happens and the judge approves it, he/she isn’t permitted to have it or other prohibited/deadly weapons.
  • Aliens/Immigrants: Non-immigrant or undocumented aliens who have visited the U.S for pleasure, school, or business are generally prohibited from possessing weapons unless there’s an exception.
  • Rule 11: An individual who has undergone Rule 11 Court and has been considered incompetent can’t possess weapons.
  • The most prevalent classification charged is persons with felony convictions being caught while possessing a weapon, usually a firearm.

Defending Against ARS 13-3102 Charges

After being prosecuted under misconduct that involves weapons law, it may seem as though you are in a hopeless situation. Fortunately, this isn’t it. Several legal defenses are available to help you fight the charges. They include possession, knowledge, statutory exclusions, evidentiary challenges, and weapon definition.

You had no Knowledge of the Weapon’s Proximity or Existence

The most common defense argued in these charges concerns whether you were aware of the deadly weapon’s proximity or existence. The defense applies mostly in cases of prohibited possession. Here, the primary concern is whether the defendant was aware that the weapon existed.  In most scenarios, a prohibited possessor may be close to a deadly weapon but doesn’t know it is there.

Take, for instance, being in a vehicle with a person who had a deadly/prohibited weapon underneath the car seat. In a case like this, the prosecution may charge you with possessing a deadly weapon, although you didn’t know of its proximity.  The prosecution may argue that you knew it existed, while you, on the other hand, can claim otherwise. If you are in this situation, your attorney must thoroughly review your case and look at this incident from different angles.

For instance, did you acknowledge or admit that you knew the deadly weapon existed or the likelihood that it was there? If so, was your admission explicit and unambiguous, or did the law enforcement officer twist their statements and manipulate it? If there’s reasonable doubt that you knew the weapon existed, it may be challenging for the court to find you guilty. 

The Weapon was not in Your Possession

At times, you could have known that the weapon existed, but may not be the one in its possession. Only because a weapon exists or is in your general vicinity doesn’t mean that you possess it. The question here becomes if there is sufficient connection between you and the weapon. As per the Arizona statute, possession is described by one’s capability to exercise control or dominion over the deadly weapon.

A case scenario is when law enforcement officers search your home and find that your roommate possesses deadly weapons. You may have been aware that the weapon existed, but didn’t have actual control or dominion over it since it belonged to someone else and was under his/her control.

Statutory Exclusions

ARS 13-3102 law has many exceptions to the generally prohibited acts. Your attorney must review your specific case and the accusations’ circumstances to establish if any exclusion under this law applies. In most cases, police officers do not read the revised statutes’ fine details since that isn’t their job.

The prosecution team’s responsibility is to review the facts surrounding your case and make sure there’s enough proof to support your prosecution. However, in particular cases, they may overlook the constitutional exceptions that would have an otherwise illegal act to be taken outside the scope of the law on misconduct involving weapons.

Weapon Definition

At times, people face charges under this law for possessing materials for making illegal weapons such as explosives. In the real sense, the material isn’t for making weapons but rather for other purposes. For instance, explosives have several other justifiable uses in mining, demolition, or construction. Thus, if explosives are defined to be outside the scope of this law, they might not be deemed illegal weapons. Therefore, possessing them may not prove misconduct.

Evidentiary Challenges

It’s also worth noting that it’s the prosecution’s responsibility to substantiate their case and not the defense team’s job to refute the case. Mostly, this means they have to link the weapon in question to the defendant through forensic and evidentiary methods, including:

  • DNA tests to establish a connection between the weapon and the defendant
  • Finger analysis to link the weapon to the accused
  • Chemical tests of the deadly weapon or weapon’s residue
  • Photo line-up to accurately identify the defendant
  • Other interrogatory issues like duress, coercion, or Miranda violations

Several other defenses are available for this crime, which depend on the precise facts surrounding your situation. An attorney would know the best of these defenses to argue in your case.

Penalties of Misconduct Involving Weapons

The crime of misconduct involving weapons is broad and covers several different types of conduct. Thus, if facing charges under this law, the consequences vary depending on the misconduct in question. Possible punishments for this crime vary. For instance, a Class 2 Felony attracts less severe penalties than a Class 3 Misdemeanor. The penalties are:

Class 2 Felony

A Class 2 Felony is the most severe of the charges you could face under ARS 13-3102. You are charged with this if you used your weapon to commit an act of terrorism. The penalties for this may include a prison sentence of three to twelve and a half years or up to a one-year jail sentence and probation.

Past Convictions

If you are convicted of this offense and have other prior convictions, you will serve a sentence of between four and twenty-three years in state prison. If you have two past convictions, you may be subject to between ten and thirty-five years in state prison.

Class 3 Felony

You will be charged with a Class 3 felony if you:

  • Committed a walk- or drive-by-shooting in any occupied location
  • Discharged a gun in any occupied building or other structure in the furtherance of gang activity
  • Sold or gave a firearm to an individual who you knew was planning to execute a felony offense

This crime has a sentence of up to three years or six months in prison upon conviction.

Class 4 Felony

You are charged with a Class 4 Felony misconduct involving weapons if you:

  • Manufacture, possess or sell an illegal weapon
  • Use a deadly weapon to execute a felony
  • Enter a nuclear power plant with any illegal weapon
  • Have an illegal weapon and are a prohibited possessor

The penalties for this, if convicted, is two years or six months in prison.

Class 6 Felony

You face Class 6 Felony charges if you are arrested:

  • In possession of a defaced weapon
  • Defacing a weapon
  • Selling, transferring, or transporting a weapon to a prohibited possessor
  • Having a deadly weapon concealed in a vehicle while committing an offense

Note that if you illegally fire a gun, you might face Class 6 Felony charges, except if it was on supervised hunting grounds or firing ranges. A Class 6 Felony crime conviction can lead to a maximum of a year in state prison.

Class 1 Misdemeanor

A person will face Class 1 Misdemeanor charges of misconduct involving weapons if they are caught:

  • Carrying any concealed weapon into a polling station, school property, an event if you’ve been requested not to do so, or public premises
  • Declining to inform law enforcement of the weapon
  • Refusing to remove a weapon if legally asked to do so

The punishment for a Class 1 Misdemeanor is up to six months in county jail.  There is also a Class 3 Misdemeanor crime of misconduct involving weapons. This is the least severe form of misconduct under this law. It is charged when an under twenty-one person is caught carrying a concealed deadly weapon.

In Arizona, many cases of misconduct involving weapons have a criminal record or involve a victim. The prosecution considers these two factors aggressively. Generally, the DA will go for a prison sentence upon conviction. Thus, you must seek to have a reliable defense to have a chance of winning. Apart from prison or jail time, you may also face a lengthy probation sentence, counseling, and hefty fines. If you have been charged under this law, you want to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help with your case.

Find a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you’re charged with misconduct involving weapons, possible sentencing or penalties are serving jail/prison time, paying hefty fines, probation, losing your legal rights to own a gun, and much more. You should also know that this isn’t the time to take matters into your own hands. Any charge under ARS 13-3102 could result in a harsher criminal prosecution. 

In situations like this, Phoenix Criminal Attorney law firm could provide the best legal defense for your charges. Our lawyers know how to develop the strongest defense strategy and work toward protecting your freedom and future. Contact us today at 602-551-8092 for a free case evaluation and excellent representation.

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