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Understanding unlawful discharge of a firearm charges in Arizona

Like many people in Maricopa County, and throughout Arizona, you may carry a firearm. While state law generally allows this, you could face criminal charges if you discharge your weapon. At the Baker Law Firm, LLC, people often ask us about the state’s laws regarding the firing of guns. In this post then, we will discuss the circumstances under which you may discharge a firearm, as well as the penalties you could face if convicted of unlawful discharge.

Under Arizona state law, you could be charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm if you fire a weapon in city limits with criminal negligence. As such, you cannot fire a weapon within the boundaries of any municipality in the state, or within one mile of any occupied structure, without justification. Doing so is considered a class 6 felony offense.

There are a number of exceptions, under which you are permitted to legally discharge your firearm. These include the following:

  •        Firing on a supervised range
  •        Hunting wildlife during open seasons with the appropriate licenses
  •        By permit to control nuisance wildlife
  •        By special permit from the municipality’s chief of police
  •        To perform specified duties as an animal control officer
  •        If using blanks

Additionally, you are able to fire a weapon to defend yourself, or another person, against an animal attack. However, it must be reasonable to believe that, under the circumstances, you had to immediately use deadly physical force to protect yourself, or someone else.

You could be exposed to a range of consequences if convicted of unlawful discharge of a firearm in Arizona. The type and severity of the penalties you could be sentenced to may vary based on factors, including your prior criminal record. For a first time offense, you could face a minimum of six months in prison, or a maximum of 1.5 years. You could also be sentenced to supervised probation, and fined.

For more information about weapons crimes in the state of Arizona, please visit our unlawful discharge of a firearm page.

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