With 4th of July celebrations may come another source of noise in Arizona: gunshots. Some people take advantage of the sound of fireworks on Independence Day to try to mask the sound of an unlawful firearm discharge. Others are unaware of the laws against unlawful discharge and shoot guns to celebrate the holiday. If you are facing charges for the unlawful discharge of a firearm in Arizona, act quickly to protect your rights. Hire an experienced Phoenix gun charges attorney to help you navigate the justice system.
Arizona Revised Statute 13-3107, otherwise known as Shannon’s Law, is the state’s law prohibiting the unlawful discharge of a firearm. The law states that it is a Class 6 felony to discharge a firearm with criminal negligence within the limits of any municipality in Arizona and one mile from any occupied structure. Criminal negligence means with a wanton disregard as to foreseeable risks to others. If a reasonable person would not have discharged the firearm due to a perceived gross deviation from the standard of care, a defendant may be guilty of criminal negligence.
ARS 13-3107 received the name Shannon’s Law due to a tragedy involving the death of a young girl in Arizona. Shannon Smith was a 14-year-old girl living in Phoenix in 1999 when a stray bullet struck and killed her. After learning the perpetrator would only face a misdemeanor charge at most for the unlawful discharge of a firearm, Shannon’s parents fought for stronger laws. The passing of Shannon’s Law made this offense a felony.
Shooting bullets into the air has become a tradition for some people on holidays such as the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve. If you shoot a gun with criminal negligence in regard to the safety of others within city limits, you might face charges under ARS 13-3107. It may be lawful to discharge a firearm in Arizona, however, if doing so met certain exceptions to Shannon’s Law. Depending on your case, your lawyer may be able to use a defense to convince the courts to dismiss or reduce the charges against you.
• You were shooting to control nuisance wildlife. For example, if you were an animal control officer performing work-related duties.
• You received special permission to shoot from your municipality’s chief of police.
• You were discharging a firearm while on a supervised shooting range.
• You were using blanks.
• You were more than one mile away from any occupied structure.
• You discharged the firearm in self-defense or defense of others.
The right defense strategy could save you from facing serious charges for the unlawful discharge of a firearm in Arizona. Breaking Shannon’s Law could lead to a Class 6 felony charge, with penalties such as a mandatory sentence of at least 1.5 years in prison (up to 3 years). A second offense comes with a prison-only sentence of at least 3 years but up to 4.5 years. The penalties increase further for third or subsequent convictions.
Arizona tends to be harsh with its criminal laws and penalties. The best way to protect your rights and minimize the consequences you face for the unlawful discharge of a firearm is to hire a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix. The right lawyer can craft a defense strategy based on your unique case and goals.
Your attorney may be able to negotiate a felony charge down to a misdemeanor, for example, or a jail sentence down to probation and community service. Your lawyer may also be able to convince the courts to drop the charges against you with a defense that proves your innocence or otherwise dismantles the prosecution’s case. Contact a defense attorney as soon as possible if someone accuses you of violating Shannon’s Law in Phoenix.