Penalties for Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm in Arizona

black revolver gun with bullets In the state of Arizona, there are several types of offenses that could land you in jail or at least result in some sort of legal penalty. One of these offenses is the criminal negligence charge of unlawful discharge of a firearm, along with more severe penalties related to the discharge of a firearm. To prove unlawful discharge of a firearm, a prosecutor must be able to at least prove criminal negligence relating to unlawful discharge of a firearm. Read on to learn more about an unlawful discharge and what it means in the state of Arizona specifically:

What is Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?

This is a pretty serious charge in the state of Arizona and is classified as a felony. It is often considered a dangerous offense, hence its serious nature. In fact, in most unlawful discharge of a firearm cases in the state, even the most minor, there is a mandatory first-time offender prison-time requirement.

Arizona Firearm Law

While unlawful firearm discharge charges are serious in every state within the United States, in Arizona in particular, it is a serious charge, thanks to the state’s “Shannon’s Law.” “Shannon’s Law” was named after Shannon Smith, a 14-year-old girl, who was tragically killed by a stray bullet in Phoenix, Arizona. Her death caused a great deal of public outcry due to the fact that the prosecution in the case could only prosecute the case as a misdemeanor as there was no law on the books to justify a harsher penalty. However, since 1999, when the legislature was passed, discharging a firearm in city limits unlawfully was made a felony.

Penalties For Unlawful Discharge

With the conviction of the unlawful discharge of a firearm, you can expect to face up to 12 months in jail incarceration within an Arizona Department of Corrections prison. There could also be additional fines and felony probation.

Exceptions to Unlawful Discharge

There are some legal exceptions to an unlawful discharge charge. The following are all legally applicable exceptions to the general rule of unlawful discharge. If you shot your firearm for any of the following reasons, your case likely falls under the exception to the rule of law instead of breaking the law:

  • When a firearm is shot properly, at a supervised firing range.
  • If you shot your firearm in self-defense.
  • You shot your gun as part of the activity of hunting during a recognized hunting season, as outlined by the
  • Arizona Game and Fish Commission.
  • As allowed by a special permit by the chief of police.
  • For the control of “nuisance wildlife,” as outlined by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • If blanks, not standard bullets, were used when the gun was fired.
  • As required or necessitated by an animal control officer.
  • If you shot the gun further away than a mile from any occupied structure.
  • If you fired your firearm in defense of an animal attack.

Defenses Against an Unlawful Discharge Charge

There are several defenses regarding the unlawful discharge of a firearm. They include, in part, no negligence and statutory defenses, mistaken identity, lack of evidence, and constitutional violations.

Your Next Step

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for weapons charges of all sorts, including the unlawful discharge of a firearm. Since the charges surrounding the unlawful discharge of a firearm are so serious, it’s important to ensure that you have an experienced team of experts on your side.

The Nolan Law Firm