Arizona’s criminal code contains statutes that expressly apply to the use of stun guns in crimes. The code includes statutes that prohibit the use of stun guns in some circumstances, as well as statutes that authorize harsher sentences for defendants who use stun guns while committing crimes.
The rules concerning stun guns refer to instruments that are both "remote" and "authorized."
A remote stun gun is a device that emits an electrical charge that is designed and used to incapacitate a person or animal, through either direct contact with the device or wired probes attached to the device, or through the emission of a spark, plasma, ionization, or other conductive means.
An authorized remote stun gun is one with an electrical discharge of less than 100,000 volts and less than nine joules of energy with each pulse, has all projectiles labeled with a serial number, disperses coded material with the deployment of the electrodes that is traceable to the purchaser through the manufacturer’s sales records, and has a training program offered by the manufacturer.
Arizona law makes it a crime to sell an authorized remote stun gun without keeping an accurate sales record of the purchaser’s identity and the manufacturer of the gun. Failure to do so is a petty offense, punishable by a fine but not jail time. This requirement does not apply to secondary sales of authorized remote stun guns.
The same statute also prohibits the use or threatened use of a remote stun gun against a law enforcement officer who is engaged in the performance of official duties. Arizona classifies violations of this part of the statute as Class 4 felonies. Class 4 felonies for first-time offenders carry a presumptive sentence of 2.5 years; however, the use of a stun gun in the commission of the crime authorizes a judge to impose an aggravated sentence of 3.75 years.
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 13-701, 13-3117)
Under Arizona law, a defendant who uses a stun gun during the commission of a crime may receive a lengthier sentence than a defendant who commits the same crime but does not use a stun gun.
In a first-degree murder case where the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty, the use of a stun gun may play a pivotal role in a jury’s determination of whether to give a convicted defendant life or death. Arizona’s death penalty statute requires a jury to impose the death penalty where the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt one or more 14 aggravating circumstances. The use of an authorized remote stun gun or remote stun gun while committing first-degree murder is one of the aggravating circumstances. If the jury finds that the prosecutor has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant used an authorized remote stun gun or remote stun gun during the murder, the jury must impose the death penalty unless it finds that sufficient mitigating circumstances exist to justify imposing a life sentence.
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-751)
Arizona law also treats the use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime as an aggravating factor in non-death penalty cases. If a jury determines in a felony case that the prosecutor has proven one or more of 24 aggravating factors, the judge may impose an aggravated sentence if mitigating circumstances do not sufficiently outweigh the aggravating factors so as to justify a lesser sentence. If the judge finds that no mitigating factors exist, the law requires the judge to impose an aggravated sentence.
The use of an authorized remote stun gun or remote stun gun during the commission of a crime is among the 24 aggravating factors identified by statute that may authorize the judge to impose the maximum prison term allowed by law for defendants convicted of felonies.
“Aggravated sentence” refers to the highest sentence allowed by a criminal statute. For example, a defendant convicted of sexual assault will be sentenced to seven years in prison if the defendant has no prior felony convictions. If the defendant used a stun gun in the sexual assault and the judge finds no mitigating circumstances, then the judge must impose the maximum sentence allowed by the sexual assault statute for first-time felony offenders: 14 years in prison.
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-1406)
A defendant’s use of a stun gun during a crime may also determine the severity of the charge the defendant faces. For example, a person who intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury to another, touches another person intending injure or provoke, or intentionally places another person in reasonable fear of receiving an injury commits the crime of assault, a misdemeanor. The use of a deadly or dangerous weapon in committing the assault, however, makes the crime aggravated assault, a felony. The use of a stun gun while committing an assault will support a charge of aggravated assault if the jury determines that the defendant used the stun gun in a manner that made it a deadly or dangerous weapon, as defined by Arizona law.
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 13-1203, 13-1204; State v. Gustafson, 233 Ariz. 236 (2013))
If you are charged with a crime involving the use of a stun gun, you should immediately speak with an attorney. A conviction for a crime involving a stun gun can carry a lengthy prison sentence. An attorney will evaluate the facts in your case and develop strategies for defending against the charge. Hiring an experienced attorney is the most important step you can take to ensure a positive outcome to your case.