Posted on April 9, 2020 in Firearms Crimes
On New Year’s Eve, at Midnight, some foolish people shoot a gun into the air to celebrate. What they do not think about is gravity because that bullet is going to come down. Those falling bullets kill people. The legislature is fully aware of the danger and passed some strict laws on discharging firearms within city limits. This law is often referred to as Shannon’s law after a little girl was killed from a falling random bullet.
The charge for firing a gun within city limits without any justification is charged as Unlawful Discharge of Firearms and is convicted as a class 6 felony. The prosecutor will also charge this as a dangerous offense because a deadly weapon was used in the crime. A dangerous offense removes the possibility of probation. It requires a mandatory prison sentence of 1.5 to 3 years, with a presumptive sentence 2.25 years, assuming you do not have prior felony convictions. This is serious.
What is unusual in defense of unlawful discharge of firearms is that the state of mind, the mens rea, is extremely low. Basically, for the state to bring these charges against a person, the level of proof they need to determine a person’s intent to commit this crime is low. Typically, for most crimes, it must be done with a knowingly or intentionally state of mind. Some crimes go as low as a reckless state of mind. For example, you can commit an assault with the state of mind of knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly. If you knowingly or intentionally punch someone in the nose, that is a crime. You can also commit an assault by recklessly hitting someone. This can be accomplished by closing your eyes in a crowded elevator and throwing punches. However, if you accidentally hit your co-worker in the nose as you are stretching, that is not a crime because the state of mind does not go as low as negligence.
Arizona aggressively prosecutes weapons charges, especially when a gun has been fired. Due to the dangers of firearms, when an individual unlawfully discharges a gun, it is looked upon by Arizona law enforcement as a serious crime with equally serious penalties upon conviction. Resulting in the state of mind here, it is seen as criminal negligence. Thus, if you accidentally discharge your gun in your home, you will be charged with the same class 6 dangerous offense. Many people have been turned into felons in Arizona for accidentally discharging their guns in their own homes.
We very recently represented a client for discharging a firearm in an apartment on accident, which resulted in the bullet going through the wall into the next apartment. A witness was present and observed our client firing the gun. In addition to this, this person confessed to discharging the firearm to police officers. Fortunately, no one was hit. The prosecutor charged our client with a class 6 felony dangerous. The prosecutor offered to drop the dangerous allegation, thereby making him probation eligible. However, the prosecutor wanted this person to be a felon for the rest of their life. The result of one mistake of accidentally discharging their gun in their own home could have cost someone their freedom and future. Luckily our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix were able to negotiate with the prosecutor in this case. The outcome for our client was an offer of class 6 open felony, which means after our client successfully completes probation, it will be moved to a misdemeanor.
As highlighted above, if you are facing any charges relating to firearms, you should consult with an experienced Phoenix firearm defense attorney before pleading guilty to charges. The legal team at AZ Defenders has decades of experience in defending unlawful discharge of firearm charges. Our defense attorneys have the skills, knowledge, and resources to work with the system strategizing a defense that may lead to a reduction of charges or sentencing or dismissal of your case. Do not let one lapse in judgment or mishandling of a firearm determine the rest of your future. Call today at 480-456-6400 or contact us online for a free consultation.