Scale and gavelThis is the third post in our series on how criminal charges impact the gun rights of a Phoenix, Arizona resident. Our last post discussed Arizona’s ban on gun ownership by one convicted of a felony or domestic violence. It is important for a defendant to understand the ramifications of such laws as well as how the Court proceeds in such cases. In this post we will discuss how defendants can protect their gun ownership rights by reaching a plea agreement.

As I explained in my last post, one must be convicted of domestic violence or a felony in order to be banned from owning a firearm. Simply being charged with such an offense will not create a ban on gun ownership. This means that one facing a serious charge, but who then pleads guilty to a lesser offense, will not lose their right to own a firearm if the crime for which they pled guilty does not carry a gun ban. An example of this would be a defendant who is charged with a felony and who pleads guilty to a misdemeanor other than domestic violence. Such a plea agreement can take one of two forms.

The first possibility is that the defendant pleads guilty to an offense which is less than than which they were originally charged. If, for example, the accused is charged with felony battery and pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault then the defendant would maintain their firearm rights. Such a plea agreement would be the result of one’s criminal defense lawyer negotiating with the prosecutor to reach an agreement. Such a plea would typically involve the defendant pleading guilty, to the lesser charge, and serving either formal or informal probation. If the defendant violates the probation then the they would likely serve substantial time but would retain their firearm rights as they would have only been convicted of a misdemeanor.

The second possibility is that the defendant enters into a plea agreement which involves a deferred adjudication. This may include, for example, one charged with a felony pleading guilty. The conviction, however, would not be made an official part of the Court’s record. The defendant would have to serve probation and complete certain requirements. If the defendant successfully completes probation and any other requirements then a misdemeanor conviction would be entered in the Court’s record. This would allow the defendant to retain their gun ownership rights. If the defendant violates probation then they will be convicted of the original felony, serve substantial time, and lose their firearm rights.

Plea negotiations are not a “do it yourself” project. It is important that one understand the meaning of negotiations and the long-term ramifications of any agreement entered into. Unfortunately, many defendants do not understand such ramifications and enter into a plea agreement they later regret. If you are charged with a crime, and are concerned about your right to own a firearm, then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. In addition to Phoenix we represent defendants in other Maricopa County cities such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert. We also assist Pima County residents in Tucson.