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WEAPONS OFFENSE OVERVIEW
In Illinois, weapons offenses can carry serious penalties. This is especially true when defendants have a criminal record or the weapons charge is combined with other criminal charges, such as a drug offenses, burglary or robbery. In many cases, gun charges carry mandatory minimum prison sentences, and those convicted of these offenses may also face permanent consequences on their criminal record, along with heavy fines and community service time.
With the ongoing gun and gang violence in Chicago and Cook County, laws with respect to weapons offenses are always changing.
Attorney Eryk Wachnik is a former Cook County gun crimes prosecutor and is up to date on all of the latest changes in the law. We will be relentless and aggressive in protecting your rights and will fight for your interests, from your initial bond hearing, up to and including trial and further proceedings. We will also work with you and always be in touch to make sure that you’re fully informed along every step of the process. For a free consultation with attorney Eryk Wachnik, call our law office today at 847-892-5060.
MOST COMMON WEAPONS OFFENSES
Weapons charges in a case will vary according to what happened in a particular case, the defendant’s background and whether anyone was killed or injured. The following are the most common offenses in Illinois:
Unlawful Use of Weapons / UUW (720 ILCS 5/24-1) is the name for a wide variety of weapons and/or gun charges or offenses in Illinois. This crime is committed by merely unlawfully possessing the weapon and not actually “using” the weapon. This statute is broad and covers a wide variety of weapons, including handguns, rifles, knives and many other weapons. A person will typically be charged with UUW when he or she is caught with a gun or other dangerous weapon. Although the person may not have intended any harm, it is against the law to merely have or possess certain weapons in certain places.
Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon / Agg UUW (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6) is a felony offense most commonly charged when an individual possesses a firearm on the street, public way or in a vehicle without a valid FOID card and/or concealed carry permit. The state’s attorney must prove that the gun was uncased, loaded and immediately accessible. As such, it is a defense to this charge if an individual has the gun in their car, but said gun was in something that the law defines as a “case”, such as a trunk or glove compartment. Another defense to this charge would be if the gun was unloaded. However, while these points may be a defense to the charge of Agg UUW, there are still many other offenses an individual could be charged with. These laws have changed countless times in Illinois and have become quite harsh. As of 2011, a person who is convicted of this offense and does not have a valid FOID and CCL must serve from 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. However, there have been many recent changes which may allow for a more lenient disposition. A skilled attorney, such as Eryk Wachnik, may also present mitigation to the prosecutor to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Use of Weapons by Felon / UUW by Felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1) is similar to the offense of UUW described above, except the defendant is a convicted felon. The penalties for UUW by Felon are much more severe since the individual charged with possessing the weapon is already a convicted felon. Once a person is convicted of any felony in Illinois or any other state, they may not possess a gun or any other type of weapon in any location, which includes their home. Thus, an individual who is prohibited from possessing a gun or other weapon may not have a gun or other weapon in their vehicle or home, even if it is for their protection or to protect their family. Often times, the police will obtain a search warrant for an individual’s home if they know that individual is a felon and have probable cause to believe that individual has a gun inside their home.
Armed Habitual Criminal (720 ILCS 5/24-1.7) Similar to the offense of UUW by Felon, the offense of Armed Habitual Criminal involves the possession, receipt, sale, or transfer of any firearm after having been convicted a total of 2 or more times of any combination of certain felony offenses. These offenses include forcible felonies, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon aggravated discharge of a firearm, vehicular hijacking, aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated battery of a child as described in Section 12-4.3 or subdivision (b)(1) of Section 12-3.05, intimidation, aggravated intimidation, gunrunning, home invasion or aggravated battery with a firearm as described in Section 12-4.2 or subdivision (e)(1), (e)(2), (e)(3), or (e)(4) of Section 12-3.05, any violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or the Cannabis Control Act that is punishable as a Class 3 felony or higher. Armed Habitual Criminal is among the most serious weapons offenses a person can be convicted of, as it is a Class X felony offense, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 6-30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, with an individual having to actually serve at least 85% of that sentence.
Reckless Discharge of a Firearm (720 ILCS 5/24-1.5) is committed when someone discharges a firearm recklessly and endangers the safety of another person. This is a Class 4 felony that is punishable by1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, but does allow for probation in certain circumstances. The state must prove that you actually placed an individual in danger by firing a gun, not just that you fired the gun.
Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm (720 ILCS 5/24-1.2) is a much more serious charge than the above offense and involves a situation where a person knowingly or intentionally fires a weapon in the direction of another or into a building or vehicle they know to be occupied. Often when the circumstances exist to charge aggravated discharge of a firearm, those same circumstances can be used to charge attempt murder.
Attorney Eryk Wachnik is a former Cook County gun crimes prosecutor and is up to date on all of the latest changes in the law. We will be relentless and aggressive in protecting your rights and fight for your interests, from your initial bond hearing, up to and including trial and further proceedings. For a free consultation with attorney Eryk Wachnik, call our law office today at 847-892-5060.