Have you been arrested for a gun crime or other weapons offense? Most citizens have the right, under the Second Amendment, to own and use firearms. But the law is far from simple. Talk to an attorney who understands the law in Arizona, and who can make sure that you are not unfairly prosecuted for a gun or weapons offense. Call Castañeda Law today to speak to an experienced Phoenix weapons crime lawyer.
Whether it is legal or illegal for you to possess a particular weapon depends upon a number of things, among them: (1) the weapon itself; (2) your status as a person who may be prohibited from owning or possessing certain weapons; (3) what you have allegedly done with the weapon; and (4) where and under what circumstances you possess or use the weapon.
What is a “Weapon” Under Arizona Law?
There are several categories of weapons in Arizona. Some of them overlap, and others include items which, under ordinary circumstances, would not even be considered a weapon. The categories are:
- Deadly weapons. This is defined as anything designed for lethal use. A.R.S. 13-105(15); A.R.S. 13-3101A.1. The term specifically includes firearms, unless the firearm has been made permanently inoperable. It also includes items such as grenades, bombs, and similar explosive devices.
- Dangerous Instrument. This can be almost anything, as long as the circumstances under which it is used render it capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death. An example would be a lamp. Ordinarily it is simply a household item. But if it is used, or attempted to be used, to strike someone, it would be considered a dangerous instrument.
- Illegal weapons. Some weapons have been deemed by the legislature to be illegal under any circumstances. These are known as prohibited weapons, and they include explosive devices using poison gas, silencers, sawed-off shotguns, nunchaku, Molotov cocktails, and i.e.d.’s (improvised explosive devices), among others.
Who is Prohibited from Possessing a Weapon?
Certain people are prohibited from owning or possessing a weapon. They are known as prohibited possessors. Prohibited possessors include:
- Convicted felons.
- Undocumented aliens.
- Anyone who has been found to be a danger to himself or herself or to others.
- Anyone on probation for a domestic violence offense or any felony, and anyone on parole, community supervision or house arrest.
The list goes on, and it is extensive, in many cases persons who have lost their right to own and possess a firearm can have their rights restored. A.R.S. 13-907 provides a procedure to have a conviction set aside. While the law does not apply to all crimes, if successful, it can include a restoration of disabilities and penalties flowing from the conviction, including the right to possess a weapon.
Weapons and Minors
As a general rule, minors who are not accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian are prohibited from knowingly possessing or carrying a firearm on their person, or having a firearm within their immediate control. There are, however, numerous exceptions to this rule. A violation is a class 6 felony.
Misconduct Involving Weapons
Many of the gun crimes and other weapons offenses are contained in A.R.S. 13-3102. The offenses are known as misconduct involving weapons. They vary in scope and in classification, although many of them are felonies:
- Possessing or using a deadly weapon during the commission of a drug felony.
- Carrying a concealed deadly weapon in furtherance of the commission of a serious offense (A.R.S. 13-706), a violent crime, or any other felony. Carrying a pocket knife is an exception to this prohibition.
- Entering any public establishment, or attending a public event, carrying a deadly weapon after being requested to leave the weapon in the care of the proprietor.
- Possession of a deadly weapon on the grounds of any school.
- Providing or selling a deadly weapon to a prohibited possessor.
- Providing or selling a deadly weapon to a person the seller or provider knows, or has reason to know intends to use the weapon in the commission of a drug felony.
- Using or supplying deadly weapons in furtherance of terrorism or street gang activity.
There are numerous exceptions contained in the statutes, and there are also many other offenses that involve the possession, use, transfer, sale and manufacture of deadly weapons. These crimes ranges from class 3 misdemeanors to class 2 felonies.
Sentencing Enhancements for Other Crimes
Although not mentioned specifically in Chapter 31 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which deals with weapons and explosives, possession or use of a weapon can impact the classification and penalty for other crimes. Here are a few examples:
- Example 1. You approach someone on the street and threaten to hit him if he doesn’t hand over his money, and he complies. The charge is robbery, a class 4 felony. If, during the course of the robbery you are armed with a gun or another deadly weapon, or if you threaten to use a deadly weapon, the charge is armed robbery, a class 2 felony.
- Example 2. You sneak into someone’s home or other structure intending to commit theft. The charge is burglary, a class 4 felony if it is a non-residential structure, and a class 3 felony if it is a residence. You enter into a home intending to steal property or money, and you have a gun in your possession. The charge is first degree burglary, a class 3 felony if it is a non-residential structure, and a class 2 felony if it is a residence.
- Example 3. You commit a simple assault by shoving a person. This is a misdemeanor. If you use a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument, the charge is generally a class 3 felony.
These are just a few instances in which possession or use of a gun or other weapon can significantly increase the potential penalties you face.
Defending Weapons Offenses in Phoenix
The weapons laws in Arizona are complicated and confusing. If you have been arrested on a gun charge, it is not always easy to understand what you are facing in the way of charges and/or penalties. Many of these offenses are serious felonies, and trying to handle the situation alone is a mistake. At Castañeda Law, we will guide you through the process. Contact our firm to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Call us at (602) 560-3131 for a consultation