What to Do if You are Arrested for Weapons Charges in Chicago

Illinois takes weapons-related offenses very seriously. For example, did you know it is illegal to possess ammunition in Illinois if you have previously been convicted of a felony? Also, did you know it is illegal to possess a switchblade knife in Illinois without a weapons permit? Illinois has even made it a crime to possess a broken bottle if it might be used as a weapon.

Illinois has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the United States. It is one of only five states that do not allow open carry of a weapon under any circumstances (unless the individual is required to have one, such as a police officer, for example). This can be news to tourists who may come to Illinois from states with more permissive laws.

In any event, if you find yourself accused of violating a weapons statute in Illinois, there are a few things to know:

  • Cooperate with law enforcement. Even if you believe you are completely within the law, always cooperate with law enforcement, especially when weapons are involved. The last thing a defendant needs on top of a weapons charge is an accusation that the defendant interfered with the duties of a law enforcement official. Additionally, resisting arrest is not clearly defined under Illinois law, so there are several behaviors that may lead to an officer accusing you of resisting arrest. It is better to remain calm and cooperative so the situation does not escalate.
  • Similarly, do not try to hide or alter evidence. This could result in additional charges of tampering with evidence or obstruction of justice if you attempt to conceal, alter, falsify, disguise, or destroy it. Relevant evidence includes more than just the weapon at issue - it can also include related paperwork or other documentation. While it may seem like the best course of action to hide a weapon when facing accusations or arrest, in the long run it may be better to cooperate.
  • Do not panic. You may think you are automatically guilty and looking at time behind bars if you were in possession of a weapon and were arrested. However, there are many ways to successfully defend against a weapons charge. For example, if the weapon was disassembled or otherwise unable to be used, you may be able to avoid conviction. Additionally, if you possess a permit to carry the weapon, and you were following the conditions of the permit, you may be off the hook. Finally, remember that officers have strict procedures they must follow during arrests, detainment, and interrogations. If an officer uses improper tactics, your charges could be dropped. It is important to retain an experienced attorney immediately upon arrest to ensure you are informed of all available defenses.
  • Even if you are arrested and formally charged, you may not have to sit in jail while your case moves forward. Not every weapons charge is inherently violent, so if you are charged with a crime, you may be released pending sentencing. Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, judges are working to keep as many non-violent offenders out of jail while awaiting sentencing as possible. Simply possessing a weapon, itself, is not a violent offense. You may have a good chance of being released while awaiting trial, sentencing, or any other hearing.

Given how restrictive Illinois weapons laws are, it is best to avoid carrying one at all, especially around government buildings, schools, or places that serve alcohol. Even if you are visiting Illinois, if you are convicted of a crime in the state, you may face jail time in the state.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago

The most important thing you can do when facing weapons charges in Illinois is to retain adequate representation. This will ensure you are aware of your rights and that you follow the best possible course of action. If you are arrested on weapons charges, contact attorney Thomas Hallock to discuss your case for free. Call 888-412-3741 or fill out the online form today.

HELPFUL TIPS FROM ME TO YOU

HOW TO PROPERLY EXERCISE YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

What You Should Do

  • Be respectful at all times.
  • Calmly record the interaction.
  • Ask if you are free to leave. If you do not ask, the officer may think—and the judge may agree—that the interaction was consensual.
  • If you are free to leave, go! If you are not free to leave, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with your lawyer.

What You Should Not Do

  • Do not physically resist arrest.
  • Do not become aggressive or confrontational.
  • Do not consent to a search. The Constitution does not apply if you consent.
  • Do not answer questions without first speaking with your attorney. Police are allowed to hold you for 48 hours and they may lie to you the entire time.

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