It’s no secret that Illinois is currently dealing with a gun possession and trafficking problem, and one of the responses by the state has been to severely increase penalties for anyone caught in violation of its gun laws. Whether by mistake or a regretful action, we’ve seen lives get turned upside down as a result of a gun possession or trafficking charge, and we want to help explain the laws, penalties and defenses so you don’t end up needing legal defense. We’re here to help you in your time of need, but we’re hoping that by learning more about the laws that you’ll stay clear of any gun charges.
Common Gun Possession Or Trafficking Charges In Illinois
In order to be a law-abiding gun owner in the state of Illinois, you must abide by some pretty strict regulations, and for good reason. At the most basic level, in order to legally carry a firearm in Illinois you must be over the age of 21, possess a Firearm Owner’s identification card and not have certain criminal convictions on your record that outlaw future gun possession. If you fail to meet these guidelines, or you violate some other stipulations, you can end up facing some of the following charges:
- Possession of a Firearm – Illegally possessing a firearm may be considered a misdemeanor for a first offense, but that can be upgraded to a Class 3 felony for subsequent offenses or if certain aggravating factors are present.
- Possession In An Establish That Serves Alcohol – Even though you may legally carry a firearm, that doesn’t mean you’re free to bring it anywhere. Carrying in a bar or place that sells alcohol can lead to a Class 4 felony.
- Possessing Of A Machine Gun/Possession Of A Sawed Off Shotgun – Possessing certain types of weapons is also illegal in Illinois. Carrying a machine gun or a shotgun that has been sawed down past certain lengths can lead to Class 2 or Class 3 felonies, and these can be upgraded if the weapons are loaded.
- Possession While Concealing Your Identity – If you’re carrying a gun while robed, masked or using another device to shield your face or identity, it’s a violation of the law, even if you have the other requirements for legal possession. This is punishable by a Class 4 felony.
Other potential violations include:
- Knowingly buying a firearm to deliver to someone who cannot legally carry one.
- Using fake credentials to purchase or attempt to purchase a firearm.
- Forging a Firearm Owners ID card.
- Knowingly possessing a forged FOID card.
- Knowingly altering a weapon’s serial number.
- Knowingly possessing a firearm whose serial number has been altered.
- Illegally bringing a firearm or ammunition into the state.
Penalties and Defenses
The penalties for any of the above crimes are quite severe. Even a misdemeanor possession charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,500, and it only goes up from there. Aside from increasing fine amounts:
- Class 4 felonies are punishable by up to three years in jail.
- Class 3 felonies are punishable by up to five years in jail.
- Class 2 felonies are punishable by up to seven years in jail.
- Class 1 felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
- Class X felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in jail.
Defenses for a gun charge are a little bit tricky, and your best bet is to have an experienced lawyer by your side during trial. Some of the more common defenses to certain gun charges include that you didn’t knowingly commit a violation, you never possessed the weapon in question, you had the proper paperwork or that police committed a violation during your arrest. We’ll explore all your options and move forward with defense that puts you in the best position to earn a favorable result.
For more information, or for assistance dealing with a weapons charge, reach out to Brett and the team at Appelman & Lloyd today.