Definition of Weapons and Other Terms
Common sense and everyday language are not always helpful in understanding what is legally prohibited. Weapons offenses are no different. In order to grasp the specifics of the offense, you need to know the definitions of the terms in the statutes. In the case of weapons crimes, some of the essential definitions are:
- Deadly Weapon. A deadly weapon includes not only guns and other firearms, but also anything designed for lethal use.
- This includes a pistol, rifle, shotgun or any other weapon, loaded or unloaded, which is designed to shoot a projectile using expanding gases. It does not include a firearm that is permanently inoperable.
- Dangerous Instrument. A dangerous instrument is anything which under the circumstances is readily able to cause serious personal injury or death.
- Prohibited Weapons. This category includes, with some exceptions, bombs and certain other explosive devices, silencers, sawed off shotguns, Molotov cocktails, nunchaku (nunchucks), and improvised explosive devices (IED’s), among others.
- Prohibited Possessor. Certain people are prohibited from possessing a deadly weapon by virtue of a condition or status. This includes, among others, anyone (a) who has been found by the court to be a danger to himself or others; (b) who is a convicted felon; (c) who is on probation for domestic violence or a felony; (d) who is serving a jail or prison sentence; or (e) who is an undocumented alien. There are numerous exceptions to the various prohibited possessor categories. In some cases it may be possible to have your right to own and possess a gun restored.
These definitions impact in a major way on whether a particular act by a particular person constitutes a weapons offense.
Illegal possession, manufacture, sale and related weapons crimes
A.R.S. 13-3102A contains a lengthy list of activities under the heading of misconduct involving weapons, including:
- Concealed Weapons. Carrying a concealed deadly weapon (other than a pocket knife) is illegal if (a) it is in furtherance of the commission of a felony, or any one of a number of serious offenses or violent crimes (class 6 felony); (b) you are under 21 (class 3 misdemeanor); or (c) you fail to accurately answer a law enforcement officer’s question of whether you are carrying a concealed weapon (class 1 misdemeanor). The offense covers not only having the weapon hidden on you, but also having the weapon in your immediate control or within a car or other means of transportation.
- Prohibited Possessors. Possession of a deadly weapon or a prohibited weapon by a prohibited possessor is a class 4 felony, as is selling a weapon to a prohibited possessor.
- Defaced Weapons. It is illegal to remove the serial number of a weapon, or to knowingly possess a defaced weapon. Both offenses are class 6 felonies.
- Providing Weapons to Minors. The sale or gift of a firearm to a minor, without the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian, is a class 6 felony.
- Prohibited Locations. It is against the law to possess a deadly weapon in certain locations, including, among others, on school grounds, in certain power plants, or at a polling place on election day. It is also a crime to possess a deadly weapon in any public establishment, or at any public event, after a reasonable request has been made to leave the weapon in the custody of the owner or operator of the establishment or event. These are class 1 misdemeanors, except for possession at certain power plants, which is a class 4 felony.
- It is a crime to supply a firearm to a person with reason to know that the firearm would be used in the commission of a felony. Supplying the gun itself is a class 3 felony.
The above list is just a sample of the various crimes relating to the possession, sale, and supplying of deadly weapons. The statute also contains a lengthy list of exceptions applicable to one or more of the enumerated offenses.
Weapons and Other Crimes
In addition to crimes such as illegal possession, sale, manufacture and transfer of weapons, possession of a weapon can affect the classification and the penalties you may face in connection with other offenses. Here are some examples:
- Assault with a deadly weapon. Simple assault is a misdemeanor. The use of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument in an assault will increase the charge to aggravated assault. Generally, this is a class 3 felony, the same as an assault that caused serious physical injury to another person.
- Armed robbery. Merely being armed with a dangerous instrument or a deadly weapon during a robbery increases the classification of the crime to a class 2 felony.
- Armed burglary. Commission of a burglary while knowingly possessing a dangerous instrument, a deadly weapon, or an explosive device, is a class 2 or class 3 felony, depending upon whether the structure entered was residential (class 2) or non-residential (class 3).
These are just some of the ways in which possessing and/or using a weapon can affect other criminal charges.
Phoenix Weapons Crimes Lawyers
If you are facing a charge of illegal possession of a weapon, or if you have been arrested for any offense where a weapon was allegedly involved, the consequences could be serious. Many weapons crimes are felonies, and some carry mandatory prison terms. Prosecutors are aggressive when it comes to weapons crimes.
If you have been arrested on a weapons charge, you want a top Phoenix criminal attorney on your side. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. At Feldman & Royle, our attorneys have experience representing clients charged with major felonies, and we have a track record of success involving even the most serious crimes. Contact us today. Your initial consultation is free.
Call Feldman & Royle today at 602-899-8000 for a free, confidential consultation.