What Are the Criminal Penalties When a Student Brings a Gun to School in Arizona?

In light of a recent story of a 6 year old bringing a gun to campus and shooting his first grade teacher, I figure now is a good time to cover the penalties involved for both the students and the parents in these situations. No funny quips or clever word play this time around - schools should be a safe environment. There shouldn’t be a company that has to make kevlar-plated backpacks for kindergartners, but this is the reality we live in, and the penalties that follow for disturbing that safety are real and have long term consequences for all involved.

What’s important to note before moving forward is that school and school property serve as different jurisdictions than general public areas. An adult student cannot legally bring weapons, tobacco products, drugs or drug paraphernalia, and/or alcohol onto a school campus anywhere in the state and expect the same punishment they would receive for a violation that is committed off of school property. The law serves to protect the safety of all students, not to defend the rights of an adult offender.

That being established, any student bringing a weapon onto a school campus is subject to a misconduct involving weapons charge, a Class 3 Misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and 1 year of probation. Exceptions to this rule exist, including keeping a weapon in a locked vehicle on-campus, but only if the weapon belongs to an adult student and only if the weapon is kept out of sight within the vehicle. A misconduct involving weapons charge can also be a Class 6 Felony punishable by up to 2 years in the Department of Corrections should the student be gang affiliated or use the weapon as part of a drug offense.

In some cases, a student could also be charged with Disorderly Conduct as a Class 1 Misdemeanor or a Class 6 Felony. If charged as a Class 1 Misdemeanor, that student could be facing up to 6 month’s jail with 3 years probation. A juvenile found in violation also runs the risk of losing their ability to hold a driver's license until the age of 18.

So what if you have kids and your kid brings a gun to school? Well, recently in Arizona, a 9-year-old was charged with 2 felonies for bringing a gun to school and triggering a lockdown situation. Strangely enough, the law is unclear on what happens to the parents. The 9-year-old was charged with 2 felonies, but the county attorney declined to charge the parents on the grounds that there was a low “likelihood of conviction.” This doesn’t mean, however, that parents can’t be charged in these situations. Parents are likely looking at charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, another Class 1 Misdemeanor. Your child is still your responsibility, and it’s likely that if they’re facing charges, you could be, too.

Granted, there are situations where the adults in question did everything right and juveniles have still found their way to access the weapons. In fact, here at Palestini Law we’ve handled our fair share of these cases. If you or your student find yourself on the wrong side of these charges, give us a call here at Palestini Law today.




Originally from Toronto, Canada, James Palestini relocated to Arizona where he received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Studies with a minor in Criminology from Arizona State University. James then attended law school at Phoenix School of Law where he earned a Juris Doctorate degree. While pursuing his doctorate, James interned at a criminal defense firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. James handled a multitude of criminal cases there, including felony, misdemeanor and criminal traffic matters.