Assault with a Gun

Phoenix Lawyer Handling Weapons Charges

Prosecutors treat offenses involving assault with a gun seriously. If you are charged with committing an assault with a gun, you may be facing a prison sentence. Accordingly, you should seek knowledgeable legal counsel from Phoenix assault defense attorney James E. Novak to protect your legal rights. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Novak leverages his insights from his experience toward building a strong defense for those accused of assault. He may be able to help you.

Assault with a Gun

Ordinary assault is a misdemeanor offense in Arizona. Assault with a gun is considered assault with a deadly weapon, which occurs when one of the following situations is true: (1) you recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally caused another person physical injury by using a deadly weapon, such as a gun; (2) you used a deadly weapon to knowingly touch someone else intending to provoke, insult, or injure the person; (3) or you intentionally placed someone else in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury.

States of Mind for Assault

The prosecutor must prove you had one of the three requisite states of mind for assault. The court will find that your state of mind was “reckless” if you were aware of, but consciously disregarded, a major and unjustifiable risk that a particular result would occur. The risk needs to have been of such a magnitude that disregarding it would amount to a gross departure from the standard of care a reasonable person would follow under the circumstances. A drunk person could be found “reckless” even if the person could not appreciate the heightened risk due to their intoxicated condition. For example, if a person drank too much at a barbecue and accidentally discharged a gun while playing and spinning it in his hand, the court may find that the defendant acted recklessly when a bullet from the gun grazed another guest.

A prosecutor can show you acted “knowingly” if she can show you believed or were aware that the conduct is what it is. It doesn't matter whether you knew your act was illegal. The court may find your mental state was knowing if you took out a gun and put it to somebody's head to threaten her.

The prosecutor can show you acted “intentionally” if she can show your objective was to cause a particular result or engage in assault. The court might find that you acted intentionally, for example, if you shot someone in the shoulder or pistol whipped somebody who offended you.

Guns are Deadly Weapons

Firearms are considered deadly weapons under Arizona Revised Statute section 13–105. A gun may be considered a deadly weapon even if it's not loaded. However, a gun that is permanently incapable of being used is not a deadly weapon under the statute.

Penalties for Assault with a Gun

If a prosecutor can prove her case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, you can be convicted of aggravated assault with a gun, which is a class 3 felony. The court would consider it a “dangerous offense." For a conviction, you can face a mandatory 5 to 15 years of incarceration, even if it’s your first offense. You can also face a maximum fine of $150,000.

If the person you assaulted with a gun was under age 15, a peace officer, or prosecutor, you could be charged with a class 2 felony. This means you could face 7-21 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000.

The penalties may be more severe if there are aggravating factors. Likewise, the penalties may be reduced when there are mitigating factors, such as your age or mental capacity.


You shouldn't assume that you'll be convicted simply because you are charged. Your lawyer may be able to poke holes in the prosecutor's case, thereby raising reasonable doubt. Depending on whether the force used was proportionate, we may be able to argue self-defense if you used the gun to protect yourself. Under some circumstances, you may be able to assert that you acted in the defense of others.

Hire a Seasoned Phoenix Attorney

If you’re facing charges for assault with a gun, you should call seasoned criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak. He uses his experience as a prosecutor to vigorously defend clients charged with violent crimes. He represents clients in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe and throughout Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

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