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Having a Weapon in a Minor Crime

Posted on June 11, 2019 in Defense Strategies

Imagine yourself, minding your own business, carrying your concealed pistol as you always do, walking down the street.  You run into a friend of yours that you know is a real pothead and have a sudden urge to smoke.  So, no big deal, you buy a joint off of him then and there.  Only a police officer saw the whole thing going down.  Because Possession of Marijuana (for the weed) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (for the paper) are felonies, you could be charged not only with Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia but also with Misconduct Involving Weapons for doing nothing more than what is protected by the 2nd Amendment.

How does this work?  Well, in Arizona, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3102(A)(1)(a), if you knowingly carry a deadly weapon on your person, or within your immediate control, or on a means of transportation in furtherance of (1) a serious offense; (2) a violent crime; or (3) any felony offense, then you are guilty of a Class 6 Felony.  Penalties for a Class 6 Felony include 4 months to 2 years in prison, up to 3 years of probation, fines and fees of $150,000 plus surcharges, and loss of civil rights, including the right to bear arms.

So let’s break that down.  In furtherance of means that you are carrying the weapon to help you commit a crime.  In the facts above, the police may argue that you carried your pistol to protect yourself while purchasing the marijuana and drug paraphernalia that you now possess.

A serious offense is: murder; manslaughter; aggravated assault resulting in serious physical injury or using or threatening a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; sexual assault; any dangerous crime against children; arson of an occupied structure; armed robbery; burglary in the first degree; kidnapping; sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15; and child sex trafficking.

A violent crime means any criminal act that results in death or physical injury or any criminal use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.  This is an important provision, because Assault, which is a misdemeanor, may be charged for causing a physical injury to another person.  If you commit a regular, misdemeanor assault while carrying a weapon, you risk being charged with Misconduct Involving Weapons if the police say or try to say that you carried the weapon in furtherance of the crime, for example to disincentivize the other person from hitting you back.

With our scenario above, though, it gets even worse.  Regardless of whether you used the gun in furtherance of the offense, if you possess a gun during the commission of any offense in Title 13, Chapter 34, most drug-related crimes, then you are guilty of Misconduct Involving Weapons pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3102(A)(8), and face a Class 4 felony.  Penalties include 1 to 3.75 years in prison, up to 4 years of probation, fines and fees of $150,000 plus surcharges, loss of civil rights, and a permanent felony conviction.

In Arizona we hold sacred the right to bear arms.  Nevertheless, if you carry a weapon and are charged with even a minor crime, you need to speak to an attorney experienced in firearm law to determine if you are exposed to prosecution for Misconduct Involving Weapons pursuant to ARS § 13-3102.  Call the attorneys at AZ Defenders at 480-456-6400 or contact us online today for a free consultation.