Lawyer Defending Phoenix Area Residents Against Weapons Charges

Each state has its own restrictions about when and how to use firearms. While the right to keep and bear arms is constitutionally protected, states have long restricted how and when people can use firearms. Endangerment is charged when there was a substantial risk somebody could have been injured as a result of firearms use. In Arizona, weapons offenses such as endangerment can vary in terms of the severity of any penalties. If you are charged with endangerment in Tempe, experienced Phoenix gun crime attorney James E. Novak can evaluate your case and assess what defenses may be available to you.


Endangerment is a serious gun crime that falls under "Assault and Related Offenses." Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1201, someone perpetrates endangerment when they recklessly endanger someone else with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury. There is reckless endangerment when someone is aware of and consciously disregards an unjustifiable and substantial risk that a particular result will occur. The risk has to be of such a degree and nature that disregarding the risk can be considered a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would follow in that situation. In other words, to show endangerment, the prosecutor must have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew your actions would cause an unjustifiable and substantial risk of imminent death to someone and then consciously disregarded that risk.

Unlike some of the other offenses that are considered assault, the charge of endangerment can be brought even if nobody has been hurt because you discharged a gun. For example, even if you fire a gun into the air simply to scare off your daughter's boyfriend and nobody is actually struck by the bullet, you could be charged with endangerment. You can be charged even if you had no intent to injure anybody. The law is somewhat vague, so there is some amount of discretion on the part of the prosecutor.

Endangerment is perpetrated not only by the use of firearms and other weapons, but also by other dangerous instrumentalities such as cars. You could be charged with endangerment if you drove so fast that you recklessly endangered somebody else with a substantial risk of death or physical injury. For example, in one Arizona endangerment case, an officer testified that he was shocked there wasn't a fatality based on the force involved in a crash that gave rise to endangerment charges. The court explained that you could put somebody in substantial risk only if you put the victim in actual substantial risk of imminent death. Recklessness can be shown by proving a defendant was aware of and consciously disregarded a risk or was unaware of the risk he created only because of his voluntary intoxication. In that case, the court concluded that the jury could reasonably find that a driver behaved recklessly by driving while under the influence of a narcotic as well as a stimulant that made him unaware of the risk presented by his driving.

It is a class 6 felony to perpetrate endangerment that includes a substantial risk of imminent death. However, in other instances, it is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor.

When endangerment is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor and a conviction is obtained, it may be punished with a maximum of 6 months in jail and a $2500 fine. When there is a substantial risk of imminent death, and a Class 6 felony is charged, it may be punished by 6-18 months in jail.

There may be defenses available, and it's important to consult an experienced attorney about the specifics of your case. All elements of endangerment need to shown beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. Sometimes a strong defense may be mounted by raising doubt about one or more elements. For example, we may be able to show that there was no reckless endangerment. Or, we maybe able to show there was no risk of physical injury or death.

Consult a Gun Crime Lawyer in Phoenix

Violent crimes are punished harshly in Arizona, even if there was no victim. You should take seriously any charges arising from endangerment. Attorney James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who represents defendants throughout the Phoenix area including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.

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