Many people who possess guns in Illinois do not know the laws regarding these weapons and often face serious criminal charges. However, not all weapons charges are felonies. There are common misdemeanor charges in the State of Illinois regarding firearms. Additionally, people may not realize these charges can also apply to ammunition.
These charges are 430 ILCS 65/2(a)(1) and (2): Possession of a Firearm without a FOID and Possession of Ammunition without a FOID. If a person wishes to possess a firearm in the State of Illinois he or she is required to obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card. Even if a person only possesses ammunition he or she must also obtain a FOID.
The law states no person may acquire or possess firearm ammunition within this State without having in his or her possession a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card previously issued in his or her name by the Department of State Police under the provisions of this Act.
The prosecution must show that the defendant had knowledge of the ammunition and was in possession of it. Proving possession can be difficult for the prosecution when the officers find ammunition in the trunk of a vehicle, the glove department, or hidden somewhere inside of an apartment or house. Evidence must be recovered lawfully; the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects American’s rights against unreasonable searches.
Even after possession has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, there are many exceptions—and therefore defenses—to these charges.
For instance, hunters from out of state do not need a FOID card. It is only required that they have the proper licenses for hunting in Illinois and that their guns are unloaded and in a case when they are outside of designated hunting areas.
Current members of the Armed Forces do not require a FOID card either. They must have their weapons unloaded and kept in a case. Similarly, veterans of the military who receive weapons from the service for use in ceremonies with blanks do not require a FOID card either.
Another option for people under the age of 21 caught with an illegal firearm or ammunition is the First Time Weapon Offender Program that was covered in another post. This program is a strict but effective way to get an illegal weapons charge removed from a young person’s record.
If you or a loved one are charged with possession of a firearm or ammunition without a FOID card, contact Richard Fenbert at Fenbert & Associates, LLC to discuss your options.