Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm FAQs

Experienced Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Serving Clients Throughout Maricopa County

Unlawful discharge of a firearm is a serious felony offense in Arizona the prosecutors bring when they believe someone used a weapon for illegal purposes. However, the fact that you were arrested for the unlawful discharge of a firearm doesn’t mean that you committed the crime and certainly doesn’t mean that you will be found guilty. There are many defenses to unlawful discharge charges, and it’s important you understand what they are and how they can be effectively used to ensure your case ends in the best result possible.

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have more than 25 years of experience aggressively defending the rights of gun owners, helping them move past their arrests and on with their lives. We’ve also put together a list of unlawful discharge of a firearm FAQs to answer some of your most basic questions.

What Are the Elements of Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?

Every criminal offense has certain elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt before a judge or jury can convict someone of the crime. For example, the elements of unlawful discharge of a firearm are:

  • The defendant fires a gun within city limits or into city limits; and
  • The defendant acted with criminal negligence.

Thus, it isn’t enough for prosecutors to prove you shot a gun when you weren’t supposed to; they must also prove that you were criminally negligent. However, this doesn’t mean that prosecutors need to show that you intended to fire the gun, only that you disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk.

What Are Examples of Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?

Possible situations where prosecutors might file charges for the unlawful discharge of a firearm include:

  • Accidentally discharging a firearm while intoxicated,
  • Firing a gun into the air to celebrate the New Year, and
  • Shooting a gun toward a group of people without trying to hit anyone,

Of course, intentionally discharging a weapon at another person or vehicle would also constitute the unlawful discharge of a firearm. However, in this case, prosecutors would also likely pursue more serious charges, such as attempted murder or aggravated assault.

What Are the Penalties for Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?

Under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-3107, unlawful discharge of a firearm is a Class 6 felony, which carries a presumptive term of 18 months in prison. However, the penalties for unlawful discharge increase significantly if you have prior convictions. Additionally, there may be aggravating or mitigating circumstances in your case that could justify a harsher or more lenient sentence. For example, under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-105, if the offense involved “the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon … or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person,” it is a “dangerous offense” which subjects you to a mandatory prison term if you are convicted.

Can You Own a Gun After an Unlawful Discharge Conviction?

Yes, if you are convicted of unlawful discharge of a firearm, you will not be able to legally own a gun. However, you may be able to restore your gun ownership rights two years after you finish your jail or probationary sentence, provided your unlawful discharge conviction wasn’t classified as a “dangerous offense” under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-105.

Are You Charged with the Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?

If you were recently arrested and charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm, it is important you understand your rights, what the prosecution must prove to convict you, and what defenses you may have against the government’s allegations. And while these unlawful discharge of a firearm FAQs provide a good starting point, you very likely have additional questions. If so, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Novak is a veteran gun crimes defense attorney who understands the many constitutional and statutory defenses that apply to unlawful discharge cases and how to effectively use them to ensure his clients' rights are respected at every step in the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call (480) 413-1499 today. You can also reach out through our online contact form.