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Gun & Weapon Offenses

In Arizona, gun and weapon offense suspects are at risk of facing severe penalties. Most people who commit gun and weapon offenses know and their actions’ repercussions. Simultaneously, a small number of them do not realize that they are engaging in illegal activity, especially those on probation for a felony offense.

If charged with any gun and weapon offense, you should seek a criminal attorney’s help immediately to increase your chances of achieving the best results. Contact us at the Phoenix Criminal Attorney for committed, thorough, and top-notch legal services.

How Arizona Laws Define Different Terms in Gun and Weapons Offenses

In Arizona, everything to do with guns and weapons is defined under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-3101. Under this statute, guns and weapons are defined as follows.

Deadly Weapon.

In Arizona, a deadly weapon is one designed for lethal use. The most common term used to define a deadly weapon is a firearm.

Definition of Firearm.

Under Arizona laws, the term firearm means any loaded or unloaded revolver, rifle, shotgun, or handgun designed to expel a projectile through an explosion. This term does not include a firearm that is in a permanently inoperable condition.

Explosive Device.

An explosive device includes black powder, nitroglycerine, dynamite, or other similar combustible material like a plastic explosive. These devices do not include ammunition or their components such as smokeless powder, black powder, percussion caps, and primers.

Improvised Explosive Device.

An improvised explosive device means any device with explosive, lethal, or destructive capabilities and can be used to terrify, destroy, or harass.

Prohibited Weapons.

In Arizona, prohibited weapons include the following:

  • A grenade, bomb, an explosive rocket, has a propellant charge of more than four ounces or has a poisonous gas
  • A device designed to silence a firearm
  • A rifle with less than sixteen inches of barrel, a shotgun with less than eighteen inches of barrel, or a modified rifle or shotgun with less than twenty-six inches of barrel
  • A breakable container with a flammable liquid and can flash up to 150 Fahrenheit or less and has a wick or a device that is ignitable
  • An improvised explosive device
  • Nunchaku
  • A combination of chemicals
  • Explosive mine
  • Automatic rifle

Note that prohibited weapons do not include fireworks compliant to the local or state ordinances, a propellant that is manufactured for the intended purpose, and a commercially manufactured device used in illumination.

Prohibited Possessor

A prohibited possessor is another common term used in defining gun and weapon offenses in Arizona. Under this statute, a prohibited possessor is anyone who is:

  • Considered to be dangerous to self or others and have an acute or grave disability under a court order under Section 36-540, and whose right to possess a firearm has not been restored according to section 13-92
  • Convicted within or outside Arizona for a felony that deprives of the right to keep or carry a firearm
  • Serving a term of probation under a domestic violence conviction as defined under ARS 13-3601 or is serving parole, community supervision, work furlough, or home arrest
  • An undocumented or a nonimmigrant alien with or without traveling documents for business, pleasure, or studying in this state and maintains a foreign residence
  • Found to be incompetent under Arizona rules of criminal procedure and has not been found competent
  • Insane

Under the subsection that include undocumented or nonimmigrant alien, it does not apply to:

  • Nonimmigrant aliens with valid hunting permit issued by a state in the United States
  • Nonimmigrant alien who enters the United States to participate in a competitive target shooting event or a display firearm at a hunting trade show or sport sponsored by the local firearm trade organization, nation, or state
  • Certain diplomats
  • Foreign officials or distinguished foreign visitors designated by the United States Department of States
  • Anyone who has received a waiver from the U.S attorney general

Other Terms Defined Under ARS 13-3101

There are other terms described under ARS 13-3101 apart from those described above. These terms are as follows:

  • Trafficking: This means to distribute, sell, transfer, dispense, or dispose of a weapon or explosive to another person. It also means to receive, by, possess, or obtain control of an explosive or a weapon to distribute, sell, transfer, or dispose it to another person

  • Occupied Structure: An occupied structure is a building, watercraft, aircraft, object, or place that is secure and can be used for transportation, business, or storage of firearms, dealers, or users. The structure can either be occupied, unoccupied or vacant

Misconducts Involving Guns and Weapons in Arizona

The ARS 13-3102 covers all unlawful activities around weapons, prohibited weapons, and other illegal conduct. This statute is bulky and covers several actions with a few exceptions. There are 17 categories of misconduct that involve guns and weapons in Arizona. These misconducts are as follows.

Possession of a Weapon to Commit a Crime

It is unlawful to have a weapon on you or your vehicle to commit a particular crime. This kind of crime can either be a violent crime, serious crime, or felony, depending on its circumstances. 

Failure to Notify

You have to acknowledge that you possess a weapon once a police officer stops you. If you fail to notify the officers about the gun and find it,  he or she can charge you with misconduct that involves a weapon.

Manufacturing, Possessing, Selling, or Transfer of Prohibited Weapon

It is illegal to sell, possess, manufacture, or transfer prohibited weapons under Arizona laws, except if the violation involves dry ice. You can only be accused of committing misconduct involving the dry ice if you knowingly possess it to cause injury or death to another person or damage another person’s property. The manufacture, sale, or possession of a prohibited weapon is a Class 4 Felony in Arizona. 

Possession of a Firearm whereas You are a Prohibited Possessor

Prohibited possessors are the most common offenders in misconduct involving guns and weapons. This kind of offense predominates with individuals convicted of felonies requiring them to surrender their rights to possess or own a firearm, and these rights have not been restored. If prohibited possessors are found to be possessing a weapon, they will likely be charged with misconduct involving firearms and weapons. Owning a gun if you are a prohibited possessor is a Class 4 Felony.

Selling Weapons to Prohibited Possessors

It is unlawful to sell a weapon or firearm to a prohibited possessor in Arizona. This kind of crime is considered a Class 6 Felony.

Defacing a Weapon

Most firearms and weapons have a serial number or other identification information. Therefore, if a firearm is found to have a scratched or sanded serial number, this will be an Arizona gun and weapon offense. Defacing a weapon in Arizona is a Class 6 Felony.

Possessing a Defaced Weapon

It is also unlawful to possess a defaced weapon even if someone else is responsible for defacing it. This kind of misconduct is considered a Class 6 felony offense in Arizona. 

Use of a Deadly Weapon to Commit a Felony

If an individual uses a deadly weapon to commit a felony, they can be charged and prosecuted for misconduct involving guns and weapons.  The use of a deadly weapon in a felony is a Class 4 felony.

Drive-By Shooting

Drive-by shooting or discharging a gun at an occupied structure is misconduct involving weapons. Drive-by shooting is typical in situations where guns are discharged from a moving vehicle. In Arizona, this kind of offense is a Class 3 felony. 

Request to Remove a Gun Upon Request

Failing to remove a gun when requested to do is illegal in Arizona. This kind of offense is usually committed at a private or public event when attendants are lawfully required to remove their firearms. Under Arizona laws, a public event includes a specifically named or sponsored event that runs within a limited duration and is conducted by a public or private entity with a permit granted by a public entity. Therefore, a public event does not include an unsponsored gathering of people in a public place.

Possession of a Deadly Weapon or Firearm in a Polling Place

Having a deadly weapon or firearm in a polling station is unlawful unless you are authorized to do so. This offense is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Possession of a Weapon in a School Ground

Under Arizona laws, it is unlawful to possess a weapon in a school ground, unless you are authorized to do so. This kind of offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. Under this statute, a school means a public or private kindergarten program, high school, or an ordinary school.

Possession of a Weapon in a Power Facility

Possessing a firearm or weapon in a power facility is illegal unless you are authorized to do so. In this context, a power facility includes a hydroelectric facility and a nuclear power plant. This kind of offense is considered a Class 4 Felony. 

Giving a Weapon to Commit a Felony

It is unlawful to give someone else a weapon or firearm, knowing that they intend to use it to commission a felony. This offense is different from committing the underlying felony yourself. Therefore, knowing that the weapon will be used to commit a felony by another person is considered a gun and weapon offense. Giving or selling a firearm to another person knowing that it will be used to commission a felony is a Class 3 felony.

Using a Weapon in Terrorism

Using a weapon, explosive, or firearm in the act of terrorism is a crime involving guns and weapons in Arizona. It is the highest level of gun and weapon offense in Arizona since it is considered a Class 3 Felony. 

Using a Firearm to Further the Interest of a Criminal Gang or Syndicate

Under this statute, it is unlawful to use a weapon to further the interest of a criminal gang or syndicate. This kind of offense is a Class 3 Felony in Arizona. 

Penalties for Common Gun and Weapon Offenses in Arizona

Under Arizona Revised Statutes Chapters 7, 8, and 13, guns and weapon offenders should be sentenced under presumptive terms. These terms range from minimum to maximum terms depending on the following factors:

  • Whether the alleged person has a previous conviction
  • Whether the offender is under the age of 18
  • Whether the offense resulted in serious bodily injury or death
  • Whether the crime was aggravated
  • Whether there are mitigating factors related to the offense

The sentencing for gun and weapon offenses in Arizona range from misdemeanors to severe felonies based on the factors described above. Let’s have a closer look at these sentencing ranges for gun and weapon offenses in Arizona.

Class 1 Misdemeanor

You can face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge if you carry a concealed weapon without a permit and carrying a firearm in a polling place or school grounds. The potential consequences for Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona include six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,5000 plus surcharges. 

Class 3 Misdemeanor

You can face a Class 3 misdemeanor charge if you are a minor below 21 years and possesses a concealed firearm. The potential punishment for Class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona includes 30 days in jail and a fine of $500. 

Class 6 Felony

You can be charged with a Class 6 felony if you are found guilty of selling or transporting deadly weapons to a prohibited possessor, defaced a deadly weapon, or possessed a defaced deadly weapon. This is a less severe felony and attracts a presumptive term of one year in prison or two years for an aggravated offense.

Class 4 Felony

You can face a Class 4 Felony if you are charged for manufacturing, selling, or possessing a prohibited weapon, possessing a deadly weapon in the commissioning of a felony, or possessing a gun whereas you are a prohibited possessor. A class 4 felony in Arizona carries a presumptive term of two and a half years in prison or three years and nine months for an aggravated crime. 

Class 3 Felony

A class 3 felony is imposed on an individual found guilty of supplying, selling, or giving weapons to commit a felony, discharging a firearm towards an occupied structure, and giving a gun to assist or promote a criminal syndicate or gang. The presumptive term for Class 3 felonies is three years and six months of imprisonment or eight years and nine months for an aggravated weapon offense.

Suitable Legal Defenses to Gun and Weapon Charges in Arizona

It is essential to hire a criminal attorney once you are accused of any gun and weapon offense. A credible attorney should adopt and employ relevant legal defenses to help dismiss your case or reduce your case to a less severe crime. Below are the best legal arguments that your attorney can adopt. 

You are an Authorized Weapon Carrier

You can easily be accused of illegally possessing a deadly weapon in Arizona, even when you are an authorized carrier. Most non-official licensed weapon carriers, like business people, are usually victims of this kind of arrest. Therefore, you have to prove that you are an authorized carrier by providing relevant documents that prove your legal possession of the weapons. You should also have the guns stored safely in a case or box, especially if you were arrested while transporting the weapons.

Please note, Arizona laws allow law-abiding citizens to openly carry a handgun as long as they are 21 years or older and are licensed to possess or own a gun. Therefore, it is not illegal for an authorized carrier to openly carry a weapon even in public.

You are Performing Your Official Duties

Not all members of law enforcement wear their uniform while performing their official duties. Some of them, especially undercover cops, wear civilian clothes during their operations and can be easily mistaken to be illegal weapon carriers. You should provide relevant documents showing your official capacities such as United States military force, correctional officer, detention officer, or a state police officer.

The Instruments Under Your Possession Are Not Weapons

Particular instruments like fireworks that are compliant to local ordinances are not prohibited weapons in Arizona. Therefore, if your accusations are based on the possession of this kind of instrument, you are not guilty of a gun or firearm-related misconduct.

Illegal Search and Seizure

Police officers are expected to acquire a search and seizure warrant from the local judge before arresting or searching a suspect’s home. Therefore, if there was no warrant for the search or seizure of your property, the court might dismiss any evidence collected out of this illegal action. This might leave insufficient evidence for your prosecution, leading to the dismissal of your case. 

Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me

If you have been charged with a firearm or weapon crime, you should consult the Phoenix Criminal Attorney as soon as possible. With our experience and extensive knowledge of both state and federal weapons laws, we could fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call us today at 602-551-8092 for a free and confidential consultation. 

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