Weapon and firearm offenses are serious criminal cases for prosecuting attorneys in both Federal and Illinois State courts. A common charge is Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Though other weapon types fall under this charge, let’s look at this law as it pertains to firearms.
The consequences of a gun crime are severe, especially if the firearm is tied to any other criminal offense. In addition, if a person charged of Illinois or Federal gun crime has a prior felony conviction on his or her record, the result could mean several years in prison.
Illinois residents must hold a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card to possess a firearm. If you are caught in the possession of a firearm without a FOID card, this is considered Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
However, in some cases, even an individual with a FOID card can be charged with a UUW depending on the circumstances. FOID card holders transporting a firearm must have them:
- Broken down and in a non-functioning state, or
- Not immediately accessible, or
- Unloaded and enclosed in a case
To carry a loaded firearm, Illinois residents must also hold a conceal and carry license in addition to a FOID card.
Additionally, this law states that any person carrying or possessing a firearm when they are hooded/robed/masked or dressed in a manner in which to conceal their identity can be charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
Most UUW charges are felonies, though some situations may just bring misdemeanor charges. Penalties can be harsher based on where the violation takes place – for instance, a school or public park. They can also be more severe if you have a criminal history.
A defense attorney can look at your unique situation and determine if there are factors that may help your case. Can the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual knowingly had a loaded firearm in their vehicle, or did that weapon belong to someone else who left it there? Was an individual dressed in a way to conceal their identity, or were they dressed appropriately for a Chicago winter?
Because gun crimes are very serious in Illinois, it is critical to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you suffer an Unlawful Use of a weapon charge in Illinois, contact Richard at Fenbert Law, LLC for a free consultation.