Authorities arrested five men in four separate criminal negligence incidents for allegedly firing bullets into the air on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the arrival of 2022, according to news items reported from police reports.
Phoenix police arrested two men after receiving calls reporting shots fired near 11th
Avenue and Bell Road. The investigation led to the arrests of Eddie Gonzales Jr. 29, and Jacory Hillery, 20.
Mesa Police arrested David Brown for unlawful discharging a weapon within city limits. Brown allegedly fired a handgun multiple times into the air and then collected the shell casings and placed them into a plastic bag. These shots were fired near University Drive and Gilbert Road.
In El Mirage witnesses told police that they saw Michael Sais, 27, fire multiple bullets from a rifle. Police surrounded Sais home and found 21 rifle shell casings from an AR-15 and made the arrest for firing the shots into the air and one count of unlawful discharge of a firearm within city limits.
Avondale police announced officers responding to a shots fired report from witnesses arrested 20-something year old Eduardo Jaquez for discharging a firearm within city limits near 7th
and Main streets.
Glendale police use a mobile detection system named ShotSpotter
that is designed to detect in real-time when a shot is fired and provide the location of the shot.
No one was harmed in these incidents, but where these speeding bullets land can be deadly.
A shot fired into the air from approximately a mile away struck Shannon Smith, 14, in her head while she was in the backyard of her central Phoenix home talking on the phone in June 1999. Authorities after 22 years still have not found the shooter. Anyone who has information about the shooter is asked to report it using Silent Witness.
With pressure from her family, the Arizona legislature in 2000 passed “Shannon’s Law” making the discharge of a firearm criminal negligence within the limits of any city and less than one mile from an occupied dwelling. Arizona law does not restrict municipalities from reducing the distance to one-quarter of a mile.
Shannon’s Law is a Class 6 felony under Arizona Revised Statute 13-3107
. A legislator’s effort in 2017 attempted, but failed, to weaken the law named after Shannon to a misdemeanor.
If an errant bullet speeding from the sky injures or kills someone, as in Shannon’s case, the state will add a charge for harming a person or ending someone’s life, both far more serious felonies with lengthy prison sentences.
Acting with criminal negligence – which is failing to recognize a substantial and unjustifiable risk that deviates from the standard of care – the state can add an allegation of committing a dangerous act. That allegation means additional time in prison.
Arizona sentencing criteria has ranges of minimum, 1.5 years; presumptive, 2.25 years; and a maximum of three years in prison for this crime.
Ramifications of Arizona’s Class 6 felony
A Class 6 felony begins Arizona’s six-tier felony class, and although it is the less serious in the felony range, it is still a very serious offense punished by a sentence of up to two years in state prison. The state may also impose a fine of $150,000. The court may order a term of probation for three years after completing the prison sentence.
Ramifications of a felony conviction extends time behind bars and monetary liabilities. A felony conviction is life-changing. A convicted felon will lose the Second Amendment right to buy, own and possess a firearm and violating that restriction means going back to prison.
A convicted felon cannot vote in elections or hold a public office, serve on jury duty, or enlist in the Armed Forces. Employers can refuse to hire a felon, and landlords can refuse to rent a place to live to felons. Felons on probation cannot receive social security benefits or food stamps.
Licensed professionals, such as accountants, real estate agents, teachers and other professions will have their licenses to practice revoked or suspended.
A felony conviction remains on the felon’s public record for 99 years and anyone who is doing a background check can readily see.
Defenses for shooting into the air
The prosecution must prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” so defense attorneys work to build a doubt in the minds of jurors. Several defenses are available to protect the defendant’s rights; however, intoxication is not a defense.
If authorities violate the provisions established in the Constitution, any evidence collected during the police investigation cannot be used against the defendant, preventing self-incrimination.
It is standard police procedure to advise a suspect at the point of arrest that he or she has the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and the Sixth Amendment protection to have legal representation present during interrogation. These are known as Miranda rights, which stem from an Arizona case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. Anything said during the interrogation will be used against the defendant.
Insufficient evidence is a defense. In cases involving a firearm, the defense can make challenges including fingerprint and DNA analysis and chemical testing of gunshot residue with the goal of proving the defendant was not the shooter. The accuracy and reliability of the ShotSpotter also can be challenged.
Mistaken identity is a defense. It happens sometimes that police do not have the actual shooter. Confusion can occur in developing situations when more than one person, or many people, were present when the shot was fired. A witness may be swayed to falsely identify a suspect who is detained at the scene by police as the shooter.
The prosecution must also prove the defendant acted with criminal negligence in firing the weapon, which is determined by how the suspected shooter deviated from how a reasonable person would have reacted in the situation.
In Arizona, however, the law allows a person to fire a weapon in specific situations. These include self-defense, hunting, shooting from a firing range, and shooting blanks. This law does allow firing an air or carbon dioxide gas operated gun on private property.
Aaron M. Black Law for your criminal defense
If you, a loved one or a friend is under investigation or have been arrested for allegedly discharging a firearm into the sky, it is necessary to be represented promptly by an experienced criminal defense trial attorney such as myself.
I believe that good people can make a mistake, so I work aggressively to establish the best defense possible and to hold authorities accountable. I will challenge the state’s evidence, investigate the arresting officer’s performance history, and work to develop mitigating factors in my own independent investigation.
My goal is always to win a dismissal of the charge, or if that is not possible, to reduce the Class 6 felony to a less serious Class 1 misdemeanor.
Defendants and their families need a defense attorney who is accessible. Unlike some big law firms, they will receive personalized representation and will always be talking directly to me, never an assistant, at every stage of the case.
How to reach Aaron M. Black Law
Launch your defense by calling 480-729-1683 at any time on any day, including weekends and holidays or use my online contact form
, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court or at trial.
I defend illegally discharging a firearm cases in federal, state, municipal and justice courts in and near Maricopa County.