Unlawful Discharge of Firearm Attorney
Arizona has some of the most liberal gun laws in the country regarding who can carry. Under the Arizona Constitution almost anyone over 21 can carry a gun.
Restrictions include prohibited possessors, prohibited firearms, and locations where they can’t be carried within the state.
Concealed weapons are also subject to statutory requirements and restrictions. Mentally competent persons 21 or over can obtain a concealed weapon permit, issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). That is as long as they are not prohibited possessors as defined under the law.
But when it comes to the actual discharging of a firearm, Arizona is very strict. The State of Arizona and many cities, including the City of Mesa AZ have laws which prohibit the unlawful discharge of a firearm within city limits.What Are Unlawful Discharge of Firearms Laws?
A person may be in violation of local ordinances, state laws, or both, depending on the circumstances surrounding the gun’s discharge.
In the City of Mesa AZ, a person may be in violation Section 6-1-15 Weapons offense laws if they willfully or neglectfully discharge a gun within city limits.
This law also extends to slots shots, pellet guns, or rifles. These charges are brought as Class 1 Misdemeanors which are the most serious of the misdemeanor offenses in Arizona.
The State of Arizona has a similar law, also known as “Shannon’s Law” A.R.S. 13-3107. This Arizona Law was named after a 14 year old girl who was fatally shot by a stray bullet in Phoenix AZ.
The law applies if a person discharges a gun with criminal negligence into or within the limits of a city or municipality. These charges are brought as Class 6 felonies in Arizona.What does it mean to Discharge a Firearm with Criminal Negligence?
Criminal negligence is described under A.R.S. 13-105 (10) (d) as a state of mind in which a person fails to recognize the dangers or magnitude of the consequences caused by their actions under specific circumstances.
The exposure to danger must be so great that failing to recognize it is far removed from what a reasonable person would perceive in the same situation.What are Penalties for Unlawful Discharge of Firearms?
A Class 1 Misdemeanor in violation of Mesa City Code calls for 6 months in jail, fines of up to $2,500.00 per person, and $20,000.00 for enterprises, and probation.
A Class 6 felony calls for a minimum prison sentence of .5 years, and a maximum sentence of 1.5 years. These terms may be lower or higher depending on whether or not mitigating or aggravated factors are involved.
The Court may lower a non-dangerous Class 6 felony to a Class 1 Misdemeanor at its discretion under 13-604.
A Class 6 felony that is found to be a first time dangerous offense will be subject to dangerous offender sentencing under A.R.S. 13-704. In that case the offense exposes a person to minimum prison terms of 1.5 years, and a maximum 3 years in prison.
The main element that raises a charge to a Dangerous offense is the involvement of a gun or deadly weapon in a crime, under A.R.S. 13-105. If while committing another crime, a person intentionally displays or discharges, threatens, or seriously injures a person with a firearm or other deadly weapon, the crime becomes a dangerous offense.When Can a Person Lawfully Discharge a Firearm in Mesa AZ?
Both Arizona and the City of Mesa AZ allow for exceptions and provisions under which a firearm may be lawfully discharged within city limits.
The City of Mesa AZ ordinance -6-1-15, allows for lawful discharge of a firearm in the following situations and/or by the specified individuals:
- Police and law enforcement officer, performing their duties;
- Target shooting or practice on a range that is overseen by National Rifle Association (NRA) certified employees, instructors, or one appointed by an official club, school, or armed forces organization;
- Private property target shooting with BB, pellet guns, or catapult-type weapons, as long as the shooting area is safely enclosed and supervised by an adult.
Arizona Law A.R.S. 13-3107 does not apply to the following:
- Use under circumstances involving self-defense, and other Justification Defenses;
- A shooting range that is appropriately supervised;
- Lawful hunting under state law and subject to rules, and limitations outlined by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission (AZGFD).
- Control of wildlife problems as permitted by governing state and national fish and wild life services;
- An exclusive permit granted by local police officials;
- An animal control officer engaging in their official duties;
- A firearm that uses a special cartridge without bullets or pellets (blanks).
- Shooting more than one mile away from an building or object that is occupied;
- Reasonable and necessary use of deadly force to defend yourself or someone else from an animal that is attacking your or someone else.
James Novak of the Law Office of James Novak, PLLC defends those charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm in Mesa AZ, and surrounding Phoenix east valley cities. Attorney James Novak is an experienced criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. Weapons misconduct charges in Arizona are prosecuted egregiously. It is important that you retain the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney if you face unlawful discharge of a firearm or other weapons related charges. Contact or call today (480-413-1499).What To Do If You are Arrested for Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?
Though unfair, it is not uncommon for police to arrest the wrong person for unlawful discharge of a firearm.
Even if you are the not the one who fired the shot, if police believe they have probable cause, they will arrest you.
In these situations it is natural for a person to want to defend their innocence on the spot with police. But doing this will usually cause more harm than good.
If the police feel threatened by your rebuttal they may become in the least annoyed. In these cases they may charge you will additional offenses such as disorderly conduct, or failure to comply with a lawful police order.
Police are trained to use necessary and even deadly force if they feel physically threatened. This could result in tragic consequences including serious injury, or fatality.
If you reach for the police officer’s weapon, attempt to advance toward them, or even point a deadly weapon in their direction, you risk imminent physical harm. In the least you can be charged with aggravated assault against a police officer.
The safest way to deal with an arrest is to cooperate with detention procedures, and answer routing identification questions.
You have the right to refrain from answering any questions related to the incident. It is never a good idea to respond to questioning of that nature without your attorney present. As innocent as the questions and answers may sound at the time, the statements can still be used against you.
Then as soon a reasonably possible, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding the charges.
James Novak, of the Law Office of James Novak PLLC provide a free initial consultation for persons accused of weapons crimes and other criminal offenses in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert and Scottsdale AZ. To speak with James Novak directly contact or call (480) 413-1499 to discuss your criminal matter and options for legal representation.What Defenses May be used for Unlawful Discharge of Firearm Charges?
The defense strategies that will be used will be based on the facts surrounding the alleged incident. Early motions can be particularly effective when challenging evidence due to validity and constitutional violations.
Below are examples of 21 defenses which can be used to challenge criminal charges in general, as well as specifically that apply to unlawful discharge of a firearm:
- No probable cause for arrest (U.S. Constitution 4th Amendment)
- Eyewitness wrong identification (Mistaken Identity Defense)
- Justification – Self-defense (A.R.S. 402)
- Justification – Necessity (A.R.S. 417)
- Mistake of fact (A.R.S. 13-204)
- Lack of criminal negligence as defined under (A.R.S. 13-105 (10)(d))
- Duress (A.R.S. 13-412)
- Due process violations (U.S. Constitution 5th and 14th Amendment)
- Miranda Rights violations (Miranda v. Arizona)
- Right to Attorney, speedy trial, confronting accuser. impartial Jury (6th Amendment violations)
- The firearm was not discharged within or into the city limits (A.R.S. 13-3107 (A))
- Dismissal of charges due to insufficiency of evidence (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedures IV – Pretrial - Rule 16.6)
- Inability of the prosecution to prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt all elements of the charge (Standard Arizona Jury Instructions)
- No evidence to support that the discharge of the firearm was the result of a purposeful or negligent actions by the defendant (Mesa AZ 6-1-15)
- The Firearm was not discharged within one mile of an Occupied Structure (A.R.S. 13-3107)
- The defendant discharged the firearm within one mile of a structure, but building not “Occupied Structure” A.R.S. 13-3101 (A.R.S. 13-3107)
- A reasonable person wouldn't have believed that structure was occupied from the location firearm was discharged (13-3107 (C)(3)(a)
- Trial errors (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure)
- Alibi – Examples 1) The firearm used was stolen prior to the incident and never recovered. 2) The defendant was not present at the location of the alleged location from where the shot was fired. In either case the defendant did could not have fired the shot. (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 32.8 Evidentiary hearing)
- Other Exceptions for City Violations (Mesa City Code 6-1-15)
- Other Exceptions for State Violations (A.R.S. 13-3107)
Defenses will vary depending on the stage of the case in the criminal justice process, and the circumstances surrounding the charges.How can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You?
No matter how serious the criminal charges, you have the right to retain a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent you, and to defend your charges.
Hiring a private criminal defense attorney as early as possible, will enable you to protect your rights and reserve your defenses.
Being represented by an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney also increases your chances of obtaining the most favorable resolution to your charges.
Examples of favorable outcomes in criminal charges such as unlawful discharge of a firearm include:
- Dismissal or acquittal of charges;
- Reduction of classifications or sentencing;
- Elimination of “Dangerous” offense sentencing;
- Reduction of charges from a Class 6 felony down to a Class 1 misdemeanor which eliminates the risk of prison sentencing; and/or
- Avoiding jail terms completely in return for probation or other alternative sentencing.
James Novak, of the Law Office of James Novak, PLLC is an experienced criminal defense attorney, and former prosecutor. James Novak exclusively provides defense representation for those who face weapons charges and other crimes in Mesa, AZ, Phoenix AZ, Tempe AZ, Gilbert AZ, Scottsdale AZ, and Chandler AZ.
If retained, James Novak will evaluate your case and all the evidence available to determine the best defense strategy that is likely to lead to best resolution of your charges.
James Novak offers a free initial consultation for those with active charges in his service areas. Contact James Novak today through the contact form on this website or call (480) 413-1499. Speak with James Novak directly and in confidence regarding your matter and options for defense.Additional Resources:
- A.R.S. 15-714.01 | Arizona Gun Safety Program Course
- City of Mesa | Firearms Division
- City of Phoenix Police | Crime Gun Intelligence and Gun Enforcement
- Arizona Game and Fish Department | Rules and Regulations for Hunting
- A.R.S. 13 -3107. | Unlawful discharge of firearms
- Mesa City Codes Police | Title 6 Police Regulations
- Arizona Department of Public Safety | Concealed Weapons Permits
- A.R.S. 13-3112 | Arizona Concealed Weapons Laws
- Arizona Constitution | Article 2 Section 26