Misdemeanor to Felony: Shannon's Law and Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm in Arizona

Arizona's "Shannon's Law," which pertains to the unlawful discharge of a firearm, was enacted in this state in 2000 after the tragic death of 14-year-old Shannon Smith, who was hit and instantly killed by a stray bullet in Phoenix. Prior to Shannon's law, just firing a gun into the air in city limits was usually a misdemeanor charge. Since Shannon's law, anyone who fires a gun in any municipality in Arizona could be charged with a very serious class-6 felony.

Is Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm Always a Felony in Arizona?

Although unlawful discharge of a firearm is a felony offense, it may not always mean a felony conviction. You may be able to strike a plea bargain and end up with a misdemeanor conviction; however, this is fairly rare. Because Shannon's law was so widely publicized, most of these cases are prosecuted very aggressively –and often as a dangerous offense with mandatory sentencing guidelines. There are some exceptions to Shannon's law, though, such as if you were using a gun on a supervised shooting range or in a designated hunting area.

What Should I Do if I've Been Arrested for Firing a Gun in Phoenix?

If you have been arrested for unlawful discharge of a firearm in Phoenix, it is very important that you speak with an experienced and skilled Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The choices you make now and how your case is handled could mean a big difference in the penalties you suffer.

A felony conviction for a dangerous offense in Arizona can severely impact your life and your future options. If you have any questions about your rights or options, speak with one of our experienced Arizona criminal lawyers today at 1-888-929-5292. If you’d like to learn more about who we are and how we can help, take a look at our free book, Arizona Criminal Law - What You Must Know.