Maricopa County prosecutors required to include prison time in plea deals for gun crimes

In a continued effort to crack down on gun violence in the Valley, Maricopa County prosecutors will now have to include prison time when offering plea deals to defendants in cases that involve the use of guns. 

The county has seen an uptick in gun violence. Last month, the county attorney's office saw 16 homicide cases involving a gun within a 10-day period, according to Rachel Mitchell, the interim head prosecutor.

All but one of those murder cases involved the use of a gun. 

The policy would mandate prison time for felons who were simply in possession of a gun when the crime was committed.

"Under the policy, the bottom line is if you are a felon in possession of a gun, you’re going to prison," Mitchell said. "Because we see a correlation between that and other crime."

In the event that a prosecutor and defendant want to cut a plea deal that does not include prison time for gun crimes, a division chief would have to approve it.

More than 90% of criminal cases end in a plea deal. 

"The revision to our plea policies recognizes that these crimes will not be tolerated in Maricopa County," read a statement from the county attorney's office. "Those who choose to put the residents of this county at risk by using a firearm in the commission of felony will be held accountable." 

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