One of the best things about the U.S. is the freedom to possess a firearm. However, there are restrictions. Under ARS, 13-2904 it is a felony to display a firearm. The disorderly conduct attracts incarceration and a criminal record. The seasoned criminal defense lawyers at the Phoenix Criminal Attorney understand the charges’ gravity and can help you protect your rights, reputation, career, and future.
Displaying a Firearm Charge
Displaying a firearm is one of the disorderly conducts prohibited by the Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2904. Unlike other disorderly conducts, displaying a firearm is a Class 6 felony. It’s a less severe felony. However, a conviction or criminal record could affect the ability to secure employment, housing, educational opportunities, and professional license.
If convicted, you will face eighteen-month imprisonment. If mitigating factors like a clean criminal record exist, your sentence could be reduced. Nevertheless, if aggravating factors like a previous driving under the influence conviction or other misconduct exist, you might face two-year imprisonment. Your criminal defense lawyer could make a difference in the case.
How to Fight Displaying a Firearm Charges
There is only one legal defense available to this charge under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-421. The crime is defensible if a prudent individual could believe that it was essential to use force in self-defense against somebody else attempting to apply illegal force.
However, a defendant can’t raise the defense if they deliberately instigated a brutal situation with another person to apply unlawful force.
On top of that, the defense is not valid if the defendant used a firearm while engaging in a violent or serious crime under ARS 13-901.03 and ARS 13-706, respectively. For instance, a defendant cannot use the defense if they are stealing from a store and a person attempts to stop them by removing a firearm, and the accused takes out a firearm.
However, if the defendant defends themselves and is justified to apply force, they don’t require to make a display before applying force. In layman’s language, the display isn’t an essential aspect of defense of self. The defendant is deemed to have made a defensive display if it’s justified, and they:
- Tell somebody else that they have a gun.
- Put their hands on a gun stored in something else like a pocket.
- Show the firearm such that a prudent individual would understand they are protecting themselves.
For instance, it is a valid defense if a person is robbing you, and you tell him that you have a firearm.
Understanding the Trial Process in Arizona
As previously mentioned, displaying a firearm is charged as a Class 6 felony. The section below discusses the process of prosecuting an adult accused of a felony.
When an offense is reported, patrol officers go to the crime scene to conduct investigations. The patrol officers will ask the alleged victim and all witnesses questions and then draft a report. Additionally, the detectives might respond if photos of the crime scene, fingerprints, and other evidence is needed.
If the police think the suspect was identified and there is probable cause (adequate proof that the defendant committed the offense), the individual could be arrested.
If the suspect wasn’t put under arrest at the crime scene, the patrol officer’s report might be directed to detectives to conduct more investigation. The detective might reach a witness for a formal statement and obtain other physical evidence and your description. After the investigation is done, the police might arrest you if they think there is adequate evidence or send the case findings to the prosecutor for analysis.
Formal Charging Procedure
Should a prosecutor think that the police’s report doesn’t offer adequate proof to justify bringing the criminal charge, they might:
- Return your report to a law enforcement agency for further investigation,
- Refuse to prosecute, or
- Refer your criminal case to another jurisdiction.
If the prosecution team provides enough evidence, you can be convicted at the trial. The prosecution team will either seek grand jury indictment or file a direct complaint.
- Direct complaint—The prosecutor prepares the direct complaint. It specifies the crime you committed. The judge reviews all complaints to decide if sufficient proof exists to sign the direct complaint before ordering you to attend the preliminary hearing. During the preliminary hearing, you will be notified of your charge. Moreover, the judge could issue your arrest warrant should they believe you will not attend the court hearing.
- Grand jury indictment—The prosecution might also charge you by presenting proof to the grand jury made of nine (9) citizens selected randomly. Should a grand jury decide there is adequate evidence against you, the jury members will formalize the findings and issue an indictment. Moreover, the jury might order an indictment with charges different from those endorsed by the prosecution team or even determine the evidence presented is not adequate to support the charges. If the indictment is issued, the judge might issue your arrest warrant or order you to show up in court.
Initial Appearance (IA)
After your arrest, you will be detained and booked. Within twenty-four hours of your booking, you should appear before a commissioner or judge for your initial appearance.
During the IA, a suspect is called a defendant. Additionally, the following will happen:
- You will be informed of your allegation.
- You will be advised of your entitlement to a criminal defense lawyer.
- Conditions of your release are determined.
- Dates for a preliminary hearing and status conference are set.
A defendant detained without bond could be released following forty-eight hours provided the charge hasn’t been brought in a direct complaint.
When your felony charge is brought through the direct complaint, the preliminary hearing is scheduled to decide whether you must face trial. During your hearing, the prosecution team presents evidence against you. The judge could find evidence and then dismiss your case or instruct you to stand trial.
The arraignment should be scheduled within ten (10) days following the bringing of your direct complaint or indictment. The arraignment serves the following purposes:
- You are advised of the charge against you.
- The trial date and pretrial conference dates are set.
- You are requested to enter a plea of your charge.
If you deny the charge, the arraignment hearing is called not guilty arraignment. And if you plead guilty, an arraignment is held in the Superior Court. You can plead to the charge or accept a plea bargain agreement. After taking the plea bargain, the sentencing date is set.
You have a right to a speedy trial. If you remain in custody, the trial date should be set within four months from your initial appearance. If released on your own recognizance or bail, the trial date should be within one hundred and fifty days from the initial appearance.
Before your trial, the subsequent hearings will be scheduled to prepare for the trial.
- Settlement conference — Sometimes, the trial judge might order the involved parties to meet another judge and discuss possible case resolutions. The alleged victim can attend the hearing and express their views as long as you are present.
- Initial pretrial conference (IPC) — If you plead guilty, an IPC should be held. You will appear before the commissioner who narrows the issues surrounding your case and settle it before your trial date. Usually, the initial pretrial conference is scheduled forty-five days following your arraignment.
- Discovery — Both your defense and the prosecutor should reveal the information they plan to use at the trial, including the list of all witnesses, police reports, and physical evidence.
You might decide to agree to a reduced charge or plead guilty. If the agreement is reached between the prosecutor and your attorney for a lesser offense, a change of plea will happen and a hearing date set.
If the agreement is arrived at, you and the attorney will attend a change of plea hearing. You will enter the plea of guilty and surrender rights such as:
- The entitlement to a trial
- The entitlement to appeal
- The right to confront witnesses
- The entitlement to present evidence
The judge could choose to:
- Accept the plea immediately and have you detained, or
- Go to defer acceptance of your plea until the sentencing date.
Typically, your attorney should deter acceptance until a presentence report is written. It lets you remain out of police custody for a month.
After the guilty verdict or change of plea, the defendant should meet with a presentence report writer. The probation officer will interview the accused and determine what to recommend as the sentence.
If you’ve conditions highlighted in the plea agreement, the presentence report writer could advise the judge to reject your plea, accept your plea, or impose a less severe sentence. It’s essential to treat the probation officer with respect.
The Case Proceeds to Trial
If the plea agreement isn’t reached, your case proceeds to trial. Each party is subpoenaed to testify.
After the jury members are selected, your defense lawyer and prosecutor make an opening statement to explain your case to the jury.
Then the state presents the criminal charge against you. The state should establish that you committed displaying a firearm crime by showing proof and using witnesses. Your criminal defense lawyer can cross-examine the witnesses. Finally, the prosecutor and the defense make final arguments.
The jury should agree unanimously to find you innocent or guilty. Should the jury rule a “not guilty” verdict, it means you will be released because the state did not establish your case beyond any reasonable doubt. On the other hand, if a jury rules a “guilty” verdict, the sentencing date is set.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty, the sentencing date will be scheduled. Typically, it is within 30 days following the guilty verdict or change of plea.
What it Take to Win a Criminal Charge
Individuals accused of offenses often feel hopeless and helpless. While some are lucky to receive their family’s support, others lose the support immediately after being arrested. More often than not, the suspect is convicted by the public before they go to the courtroom.
The section below discusses what it takes to prevail in your criminal charge:
Be Frank With Your Criminal Defense Lawyer
Often criminal charges involve personal matters. The defendant might be ashamed or embarrassed by occurrences in their life. Therefore, you must be honest with your defense lawyer. The attorney can’t reveal any information you provide them without your consent.
Nothing will sink your case faster than when your lawyer has been blindsided because you lied about facts that looked unimportant then. When this occurs, the lawyer loses credibility with the court. If you had lied to the lawyer and testified, the prosecutor might know of the discrepancy in your statement and use it to discredit you.
Trust Your Criminal Defense Lawyer
A felony trial is a team effort. Although your defense lawyer might go to your crime scene, analyze video evidence, review the police report, and other physical evidence, the defense attorney does not have the same perspective as you. Therefore, you must communicate with your lawyer and offer the information requested.
When a defendant fails to trust their attorney, the legal expert does not fully understand what occurred, and their case narrative fails. The lawyer should also believe the defendant to develop the best possible legal defense.
Ensure the Evidence is Admissible
After you know the facts you have to establish to prevail in your displaying a firearm charge, you should determine what evidence will prove all facts of your case. However, not all evidence could be submitted in court. The complex rule of evidence determines whether a specific statement, item, or document is admissible in a court of law. While you do not have to know all the rules’ details, you must research to ensure you can present the evidence you require to win.
Do Not Interrupt
It could be challenging to sit quietly while the accuser, their lawyer, or even the judge implies or argues that you are lying. No matter how frustrated you get, it would be best not to interrupt, particularly not the jury or judge. You will get an opportunity to tell your version of the story. Calm individuals are more believable.
As previously mentioned, your defense attorney can’t read your mind. If you aren’t confident about the outcome of a given course of action or confused about the criminal process, enquire. Sometimes asking questions could reveal new information or strategies that your lawyer had not considered. If you are worried about how a plea bargain will affect your life and future, clear up with the attorney. The lawyer has a responsibility to advocate for your best interests and update you about your case.
Respect goes a long way in the court, especially if you are self-representing. For instance, you should address the judge as “Judge...” rather than “Mr/Ms...” Moreover, be polite to the accuser. Respecting procedures and people in the court will help you gain the respect of the judge and make your experience in court pleasant.
Have a Trial Notebook
At the trial, you will probably question witnesses, testify, and present your arguments about why you should prevail in your criminal charge. To keep a record of your questions, the elements you want to establish, and your argument, compose a trial notebook. You could use a three-ring binder with tabs for all sections.
Have a Support System
Your felony criminal charge can take time before it is tried before the jury. Any person facing a criminal charge understands how devastating and lonely the situation could be. It’s imperative to have people by your side who can support you throughout the process. The support system not only provides you with emotional support but also financial aid.
What Does Your Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
Whether you believe the criminal charge is serious or not, there might be more risk than is immediately apparent, and you could find yourself looking back on the case years from now wishing that you took different steps. Navigating criminal law is complicated. Consequently, it is essential to work with an attorney.
Interview About Your Case
After the lawyer meets with you, they will try to obtain more details about your case. Asking specific questions about your case, they can learn strengths and weaknesses and possible defenses about your case. It requires thorough and cautious questioning.
Review of Evidence
Reviewing the proof against you requires your attorney to study the theories and facts of your case. The attorney might have proof independently tested. Moreover, they might examine the evidence to decide if a legal theory works against your conviction.
Constant Contact With You
Your defense attorney should stay in contact with you to explain the development in your case and keep you informed about your case. The advocate should make sure your conversations are confidential. Additionally, the lawyer should ensure you understand all the possible penalties and consequences.
Find Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Near Me
In Phoenix, displaying a firearm is disorderly conduct. While it is a less severe felony crime, it carries severe penalties, including incarceration. As a result, you should consult with a competent criminal defense attorney. At the Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we can stand with you throughout the complicated criminal process. We are dedicated to fighting until we get the best possible outcome. To learn more and schedule your initial consultation, call us today at 602-551-8092.
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