During holidays such as New Year's Eve and the 4th of July, some gun owners decide to fire their guns in celebration. However, the discharge of a firearm can be a crime depending on the context in which the person does it. If you end up creating a dangerous situation or even hitting someone with a stray bullet, you might be arrested.
Why Discharging a Firearm is Dangerous
Firing a bullet up in the air is not a safe activity. Eventually, gravity will cause the bullet to fall back down to the earth. A firearm is classified as any object that uses an explosion to propel a bullet through a barrel.
What Constitutes a Negligent Discharge
There are several requirements that a prosecutor must prove to show that a discharge was negligent. They must prove that you intended to discharge the firearm, that the discharge of the firearm was negligent, and that there was the possibility of injury or death. If you were to fire your weapon in a way that would guarantee that nobody would be in danger, such as if you fire your gun in a large open area, you may not be found guilty of negligent discharge even if someone heard your gunfire and reported it.
Because of the requirements that are necessary to be charged with negligent discharge of a firearm, you may be able to be acquitted of your charges if you are able to prove that one of the facts of the case was actually not correct. For example, your criminal defense lawyer may present counter-evidence that you took great care to make sure that the discharging of your firearm would not place anyone in danger.
Felonies Vs. Misdemeanors
Negligent discharge can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Because a felony can carry much more serious penalties, your legal strategy might be to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor. This can be based on whether you have a prior conviction and whether anyone was injured as a result of your discharge.
Also, depending on the laws in your state, if there is any evidence that you are involved with a gang, you could be more likely to receive a felony. However, to find you guilty, the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If your criminal defense lawyer can effectively cast doubt on the prosecution's case, the jury might choose to find you not guilty.
For more information, reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in your area.