Felon in Possession of a Firearm
Arizona residents don't need a permit to buy handguns, rifles, or shotguns. They don't need a permit to carry a weapon on their person, even a concealed firearm, except in places where weapons aren't allowed to be. If somebody is carrying a concealed firearm, he is supposed to answer honestly if the police ask him if he is armed. However, there are several classes of people who are not permitted to own firearms. If you are charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, an experienced Phoenix gun crime attorney can discuss your legal options with you.Weapons Offenses
Arizona residents who are at least 21 are allowed to carry concealed weapons without permits if they're not prohibited from doing so. There are certain places where firearms can't be carried, such as the premises of schools and polling places. The state recognizes valid permits from other states when certain conditions are met.
There are categories of people who are prohibited from carrying a firearm. For example, you can't carry in Arizona if you're under 18, if you're severely disabled, or if you're under indictment for or have been convicted of a felony, except where the conviction was vacated, set aside or expunged, or where your rights were restored and you aren't currently a prohibited possessor under state or federal law.Felon in Possession of a Firearm
When a person prohibited from having a firearm or illegal weapon has one, it's a class 4 felony. The presumptive sentence for a class 4 felony is 2.5 years. The minimum sentence is 1.5 years, while the maximum sentence is 3 years. However, if there are aggravating circumstances, the sentence can be up to 3.75 years. The sentence is harsher for somebody who is charged with giving or selling a firearm to somebody in a gang or criminal syndicate, who would face class 3 felony charges.
In Arizona, you are prohibited from knowingly possessing a firearm where you've been convicted of a felony or adjudicated delinquent for a felony and your civil right to possess or carry a firearm hasn't been restored. You are also prohibited if you are serving a term of imprisonment in a detention or correctional facility. Further, you are prohibited if at the time you possess the firearm, you're serving a probation term based on a conviction for a domestic violence offense (even if it's not a felony offense).
Under Arizona law, you can also be prohibited from possessing, using or carrying a firearm within 10 days from the date of your adjudication or escape or release from custody if you were previously adjudicated for an offense that if perpetrated as an adult would have been burglary in the first or second degree, a felony involving the threatening exhibition or use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, arson, or a serious offense.
There are situations in which a felon or person who is adjudicated delinquent can ask for a restoration of firearm rights, depending on how serious the prior offense is.Defenses
Although you are right to be worried if you are charged with being a felony in possession of a firearm, there are potential defenses, and it is wise to consult an attorney about your situation. In some cases, it may be possible to raise a constitutional or procedural defense. Generally, under the Fourth Amendment, police officers can't frisk just anyone who seems to be carrying a gun. Under an Arizona Supreme Court ruling, they must believe that the person they frisk is engaging in criminal conduct and is armed and dangerous.Consult a Knowledgeable Gun Crime Attorney in Phoenix
If you have been charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, experienced lawyer James E. Novak can answer your questions and help you develop a defense strategy. Mr. Novak is a former prosecutor who represents defendants charged with weapons offenses, drunk driving, drug crimes, and more throughout the Phoenix area including in Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.