While the U.S. Constitution gives all Americans the right to keep and bear guns, there are strict laws concerning how and where guns and other lethal weapons can be used. Illinois has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and violating these laws often carries stiff penalties. If you own a gun or have been arrested on weapons charges in Illinois, it is essential to know what the state’s gun laws are and the potential penalties for a conviction.
The Chicago gun crime attorneys lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC have been defending those accused of weapons crimes for more than 30 years. In that time, we have successfully represented more than 20,000 clients and protected their rights. Being convicted of a weapons crime in Illinois can wreck your life, as well as lose you your FOID / Concealed Carry Permit and we are committed to helping those facing weapons charges get the best result possible in their situation. We can protect you from abuses by police or prosecutors while building a strong defense strategy. If we cannot get the charges against you reduced or dismissed, we can work with the authorities to reach a plea agreement that spares you the worst possible penalties for your alleged offense.
What Are the Different Weapons Offenses Under Illinois Law?
There are several offenses under Illinois law that can be considered weapons charges, including:
- Unlawful use of a weapon – You can be charged with unlawful use of a weapon if you knowingly carry or possess a gun or taser on your person or in your vehicle. However, it is legal to carry these weapons on your own property, in your home, or at a business you own.
- Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon – You can be charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon if you knowingly possess a gun or other deadly weapon on a public street. This offense only applies if the gun is not in a case, it was unloaded but the ammo was closely accessible, and the offender did not have a valid concealed license.
- Possession of a weapon by a felon – Anyone convicted of a felony in Illinois is forbidden to own or possess any kind of deadly weapon, including guns. You can apply to have your gun rights restored after you have finished serving your sentence, but until those rights are restored, you are not allowed to own or use a gun.
While these are the offenses that are strictly concerned with owning or using a weapon illegally, you may also face additional penalties for using a weapon while committing another offense. For example, using a gun during a robbery or assault can result in much harsher penalties than if you had committed the same offense without carrying or using a deadly weapon. An experienced weapons charge lawyer can explain the specifics of the charges against you and the penalties you might face.
Penalties for Weapons Charges in Illinois
First-time offenders accused of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon may be eligible for probation or even a deferred prosecution resulting in a dismissal, though this is not guaranteed. Otherwise, the penalties for weapons charges in Illinois are:
- Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon – Class 4 felony, one to four years in prison for a first offense. Class 2 felony, three to seven years in prison for subsequent offenses.
- Unlawful use of a weapon – Class 2 felony, three to seven years in prison.
- Possession of a weapon by a felon – Class 3 felony, two to ten years in prison for a first offense. Class 2 felony, three to fourteen years in prison for repeat offenses or first offenses involving violent crimes (assault, robbery, etc.)
Defenses for Weapons Charges in Illinois
There are a few different ways you can defend yourself against weapons charges in Illinois, such as:
- Self-defense – If you were acting in self-defense, you are generally allowed to use a gun or other deadly weapon against another person. This is one of the most common defenses against weapons charges, though self-defense can be difficult to prove sometimes.
- You did not knowingly possess the weapon – To be convicted of a weapons charge, the prosecution generally must show that you knew the weapon was in your possession. If you can show this was not the case, you may be able to have the charges against you dismissed.
- Evidence against you was obtained illegally – Police and prosecutors are not allowed to use evidence obtained through an illegal search. If police found a weapon on your person through an illegal search, your attorney may be able to have your charges dropped.
Contact a Chicago Weapons Charge Lawyer Today
The team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC is ready to defend your rights if you are facing a weapons charge in Illinois. Get your free consultation today by calling (312) 644-0444 or visiting our contact page.