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Understanding Illinois Weapons Offenses

Posted in Criminal Defense on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Illinois has among the strictest gun control laws in the entire country. The state restricts possession of firearms in a number of places and contexts. Illinois has background checks, waiting periods, and restrictions on who can own a gun. Lawmakers continue to tighten gun laws. Below is some information about weapons offenses in Illinois. To discuss your specific charges, contact an Illinois weapons crime defense lawyer.  

Types of Gun Charges in Illinois

Defendants can face weapons charges for a number of offenses, including:

In Illinois, most of the weapons arrests in the state are for alleged illegal possession. This includes both people who are not licensed to own a gun and others who carried the gun somewhere prohibited by law. For example, Illinois does not allow anyone to carry a weapon in a place where an alcoholic beverage is sold. Illegal possession arrests are on the rise in Illinois over the prior decade. 

The state’s laws have a sliding scale for charges and punishment based on what type of gun you had and where you had it. There are some weapons possession offenses that the law punishes more harshly than others. Illinois has longer prison sentences for possession of more dangerous weapons such as machine guns. However, illegal possession of a handgun often does not require a minimum sentence or any time in prison at all. 

Illegal possession of a handgun or other covered weapon is a Class A misdemeanor. However, if you have been charged with a second offense or have carried the weapon within 1000 feet of a school, public housing project, public park, or courthouse, the alleged crime becomes a Class 3 felony. This carries a minimum jail sentence of two years. When the person charged with illegal possession is a narcotics addict, they are charged with a Class 4 felony. 

Even Misdemeanors Can Carry Jail Time

Even though the usual form of weapons possession is charged as a misdemeanor, it does not lessen the seriousness of the offense. Every weapons charge can carry with it the possibility of a jail sentence. In Illinois, a Class A misdemeanor can be up to 364 days in jail. 

While state prosecutors do not always have discretion in what crime they charge, there is considerable leeway in the sentences they can seek for convictions. They might not even seek jail time at all. Nonetheless, there are other reasons why you may want to fight weapons charges. Even a misdemeanor conviction can imperil your current and future employment prospects and your ability to receive some public benefits. 

While many cases result in a plea bargain, you can fight the charges. Here are some possible defenses:

  • Police illegally searched you or seized the gun.
  • You had a valid permit to own the gun.
  • The arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
  • You did not knowingly possess the gun.

Contact a Joliet Weapons Offenses and Gun Crimes Attorney

If you are facing weapons charges, contact a Joliet criminal defense attorney at the firm of Sabuco Beck, P.C., to schedule your initial consultation. We are ready to help with your case as soon as you contact us. 

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