Unlawful Possession of a Weapon

Tempe Lawyers for Weapons Defenses

Prosecutors take illegal possession of a weapon seriously. Those convicted of a prior weapons charge are particularly at risk of a harsh sentence. However, you should not take it for granted you’ll be sentenced lightly because this is your first weapons offense. If you have been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, you should discuss your situation with Tempe criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak.

Unlawful Possession of a Weapon

There are different scenarios in which misconduct involving weapons may be charged. For instance, if you carry a deadly weapon concealed on your person or within your immediate control in or on a method of transportation, you could be charged under section A.R.S. 13-3102.

A deadly weapon is anything designed for lethal use including a firearm. Deadly weapons are a bit different from “dangerous instruments,” which are instruments that can inflict serious physical injury or death when used to inflict violent harm.

There are at least 17 different kinds of misconduct that involve weapons. The statute is expansive. In Tempe, you can be charged under A.R.S. 13-3102 for many different reasons and in some cases, prosecutors may pursue multiple weapons charges because there is some evidence that goes towards each charge.

Potential charges include:

  • Carrying a deadly weapon to further perpetration of a serious crime, which is a class 6 felony;
  • Carrying a deadly weapon when you are under age 21, which is a class 3 misdemeanor;
  • Defacing a deadly weapon, which is a class 6 felony;
  • Manufacturing a prohibited weapon, which is a class 4 felony;
  • Firing a weapon at an occupied structure in order to further gang activity, which is a class 3 felony;
  • Using a deadly weapon in a drug crime, which is a class 4 felony.
Prohibited Weapons

It is illegal for anyone to possess a prohibited weapon under A.R.S. 13-3102(A)(3). Even when you are not a convicted felon, specific weapons are illegal to possess in the state. Prohibited weapons include silencers, bombs, grenades, fully automatic weapons, a Molotov cocktail, dry ice, short-barrel rifles or shotguns, and fully automatic weapons.

Prohibited Possessors

However, the charge that is brought most often is possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor. This is a class 4 felony. It can lead to prison time if you are convicted of it. For a first conviction, you can face 1-3.75 years incarcerated. If it’s your second historical felony, you can face 2.25 – 7.5 years. For instance, if you’ve been convicted of aggravated assault and you are no longer allowed to possess weapons, but officers find a handgun on you, you may be charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

Violent Crimes

In some circumstances involving a violent offense, unlawful possession of a weapon is the least serious crime with which you could be charged. In that situation, it may be best to pursue a plea deal in which you plead guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon, in order to avoid a much harsher sentence. Under section 13-706, a violent crime may be perpetrated against someone who is at least 18 years old or who was tried as an adult and who is convicted of a serious crime, except a drug crime, whether it is a crime that is completed or preparatory.

Someone who was previously convicted of at least two crimes that weren’t perpetrated in the same situation should be sentenced to life imprisonment and won’t be eligible for suspension of sentence, pardon, probation or release from confinement for any reason, except where it’s specifically authorized, except when the person served at least 25 years, or the sentence is commuted.


The prosecution must establish its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. While this is a high standard, you should not forgo retaining your own attorney. The charges can result in harsh sentencing. Our experienced lawyers may be able to develop a procedural, constitutional, or substantive defense. When the state can’t prove you “knowingly” possessed a weapon, for instance, you can’t be convicted of misconduct involving weapons, including unlawful possession. Sometimes it is appropriate to argue that evidence of the unlawful possession of the weapon was illegally obtained and getting certain evidence suppressed can drastically weaken or gut the prosecution’s case.

Consult a Seasoned Weapons Attorney

When you hire a Tempe criminal defense attorney, you have the best possible chance of securing a dismissal, negotiating a plea for a lighter sentence, or winning at trial. James E. Novak may be able to represent you. He represents those accused in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.