Chicago Firearm Charges
Get Help from a Skilled Chicago Weapons Crimes Defense Lawyer
On July 7, 2020, a 26-year-old man in Springfield, IL,
shot at a violent intruder who broke through a window of his home. Police agreed the shooting was
justified, but the young man was still charged with a firearm-related
felony called Armed Habitual Criminal (AHC). This is because the young
man had previously been convicted of two forcible felonies: Burglary and
aggravated battery. In Illinois, A conviction of two
forcible felonies prohibits you from possessing a firearm under any circumstances.
2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security
of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall
not be infringed."
The 2nd Amendment's application is expanding in Illinois; however,
gun owners, dealers, and collectors must still comply with state and federal
laws that regulate these weapons. Illinois' gun laws are listed under
720 ILCS 5/24-1 through 720 ILCS 5/24-3. For example, Illinois requires prospective gun owners to complete a background
check and wait at least three days before purchasing a gun. Illinois also
completely prohibits some lethal items, including fully-automatic machine
guns, armor-piercing bullets, and silencers.
If you’re facing weapons charges in Chicago, it’s important to
contact a skilled defense attorney immediately. I, attorney Thomas C. Hallock, am just a phone call away.
Contact (888) 412-3741 today!
FOID: Firearm Owner's Identification Card
In Illinois, you need a FOID card to lawfully purchase and possess a firearm.
It is a Class A misdemeanor to possess a gun without a FOID card, assuming
you were eligible to obtain a FOID card. A subsequent arrest for this
crime becomes a Class 4 felony under
430 ILCS 65/14(b), assuming you still are eligible for a FOID card.
However, it is a Class 3 felony to possess a firearm without a FOID card
if you were ineligible to obtain a FOID card at the time of your arrest.
A third or subsequent arrest for this crime becomes a Class 1 felony under
430 ILCS 65/14(c).
Types of Weapons Offenses in Illinois
An AHC charge is one of several common
weapons charges in Illinois that
Attorney Thomas Hallock is prepared to defend. Other common Chicago weapons charges include the
Unlawful Use of a Weapon
(UUW): Did you know that you can be charged with unlawful use of a weapon in
Illinois for simply possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon, even
if you do not discharge it? Charges can range from a misdemeanor to class
X felony, the most serious felony charge. For example, it is unlawful to:
- possess a firearm in a public place, on government property, or at a religious
such as a church or synagogue
- possess a firearm at or near a place licensed to sell alcohol, or when
you are hooded or otherwise attempting to conceal your identity
- possess a machine gun or even parts that can be assembled into a machine gun
Exceptions to the UUW charge include:
- if the firearm is broken down into a non-functioning state
- if the firearm is not immediately accessible to you (e.g., it is in the
trunk of your vehicle and you are the driver)
- if the firearm is unloaded and enclosed in a case
if the firearm is carried by a person with a
Firearm Owner’s Identification Card or concealed carry permit
Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon
(AUUW): A weapons charge can be upgraded to “aggravated” if you possess
it in public or your vehicle without proper documentation, and if the
firearm is loaded, uncased, and immediately accessible to you.
Chicago AUUW charges are typically Class 4 felonies but can be upgraded
to a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 years, depending on the person's
Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon
(UUWF): If you have been convicted of a felony in Illinois or any other state,
it is unlawful for you to possess a firearm or firearm ammunition in Illinois.
Even if police are searching your home for a different reason, finding
a firearm in your home could open you up to a UUWF charge.
Chicago UUWF charges are typically Class 2 or 3 felonies but can be upgraded
to a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years, depending on the person's
Armed Habitual Criminal
(AHC): If you have previously been convicted of two or more of any combination
of a forcible felony, firearm-related charge and/or drug charge, you could
be charged with AHC if you receive, sell, possess, or transfer a firearm.
An AHC is considered a Class X felony that carries a prison sentence of
6 to 30 years, does not qualify for probation and could potentially carry
a life sentence without eligibility for parole.
The search method, arresting officer’s conduct and chain of custody
of the firearm are all important considerations in a firearm-related charge.
If you are charged with a gun offense or a related crime,
contact an experienced Chicago defense attorney like Thomas Hallock. Call (888) 412-3741 for a free initial consultation
to learn how Attorney Hallock can aggressively and effectively combat
any allegations against you.
Defenses to Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) Charges in Illinois
Unlawful use of a weapon (UUW) is one of several weapons-related criminal
offenses in Illinois. The UUW statute pertains to many different types
of weapons — some more common and others quite bizarre. The statute
criminalizes intentional sale, manufacturing, purchasing, or possession
of knuckle weapons, throwing stars, devices that propel blades as projectiles,
and switchblade knives, and a host of other weapons you may not have considered illegal.
Most Chicago UUW charges concern firearms, and there are many ways to defend
against these charges. A knowledgeable firearm criminal defense attorney
will know what to look for to combat UUW charges effectively. Defenses include:
Valid Permit: Possessing a valid
Firearm Owner’s Identification Card will protect you from criminal charges in most instances. However, there
are still places in Illinois where you cannot carry a weapon even with
a permit, such as schools, courthouses, restaurants that serve alcohol
and other public places.
Additionally, if you have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card or
work for a manufacturer or seller of firearms, you can
possess a switchblade knife.
Improper Behavior from the Police: Even if the facts are not in your favor, law enforcement still must follow
certain protocols to obtain evidence in a firearms case against you. For
example, an illegal search of your vehicle or residence that results in
a gun charge is enough to potentially dismiss your firearms charge.
Further, if you are not read your Miranda rights or afforded legal representation
and don’t want to waive the right to such representation, anything
you say during an interrogation related to your weapons charge likely
cannot be used against you in court. An experienced firearms lawyer can
argue any possible defenses to strengthen your case.
The Firearm was Unloaded and/or Disassembled: A Chicago attorney like me can argue that your firearm was unloaded and
not readily available, such as being located in the trunk of your vehicle
as you were driving. Additionally, if you disassembled your firearm so
that it couldn’t function, unless it’s a machine gun, is not
necessarily unlawful to possess.
Training Courses or Other Demonstrations: A solid defense to possessing a gun on or near a school property is that
you were undergoing a training course at that school. Additionally, certain
events like raffles, sales, or firearm demonstrations can be defenses
to unlawful possession charges.
Consent from School: In some situations, you may transport a weapon across school property for
a variety of reasons. If the firearms are unloaded and enclosed in a suitable
case, box or other packages, and you have the consent of the appropriate
personnel at the school, you may enlist this adequate defense to your
Chicago UUW charge.
First Time Offender
To promote rehabilitation rather than punishment in some circumstances,
the state of Illinois established the
First Time Weapon Offender Program. A defendant may be eligible for the program with the consent of the prosecuting
- the underlying offense is a Class 4 felony or lower
- the underlying offense is non-violent
- the defendant does not have prior convictions or probationary periods for
violent offenses under the laws of any state or federal law
- the defendant has not participated in the First Time Weapon Offender Program
- the defendant was not adjudicated a delinquent minor for a violent offense
- the defendant is at least 21
- the defendant does not have any existing protection orders issued against
him or her
The prosecuting attorney and court will look at the facts and circumstances
of the offense, the maturity and mental capacity of the defendant, the
potential risk to public safety, and whether the circumstances warrant
the defendant to participate in rehabilitation. A defendant must plead
guilty to the underlying charge, and if accepted into the rehab program,
the conviction will be delayed until it ends. If the program is successfully
completed, the charges can be dismissed.
In Illinois, some violent crimes that are committed with a firearm automatically
result in an enhanced sentence. Where applicable, the following enhancements apply:
- 15 years is automatically added to the sentence if the crime was committed
while "armed with a firearm."
- 20 years is automatically added to the sentence if, during the commission
of the crime, the defendant "discharged a firearm."
- 25 years up to life is automatically added to the sentence if, during the
commission of the crime, the defendant "discharged a firearm that
proximately caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent
disfigurement, or death to another person."
Contact an Experienced Chicago Gun Crime Defense Lawyer
There are many other creative ways to fight UUW charges, and only a proven,
effective Chicago gun crime defense attorney
will know what questions to ask to ensure you are adequately represented. If you are charged with
a firearm-related crime in Chicago, Illinois, call attorney Thomas Hallock
at (888) 412-3741 to
schedule a free consultation.