Being charged with Unlawful use of a Weapon (UUW) in Illinois could result in jail time. Like any serious crime, the conviction depends heavily on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the offender’s history. The weapon in question does not have to be a firearm to give law enforcement cause for arrest. A criminal defense attorney can help those charged with UUW understand their options and navigate court appearances. Working with a lawyer could mean the difference between several years in jail and several months of probation.
What counts as UUW?
Under Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5, there are many actions that the state considers unlawful use of a weapon. Anyone who builds, sells, buys, owns, or carries on their person an object known to cause bodily harm could be charged with UUW. These items include (but aren’t limited to):
- Metal knuckles
- Throwing stars
- Ballistic knives
- Billy clubs
- Broken bottles
When it comes to items such as razors, broken bottles, and knives, the state must prove the offender intended to use the item to cause harm. You’re allowed to own a piece of broken glass; once you use it against another person and try to hurt them with it, it becomes a weapon and you could be arrested.
Most UUW charges result in Class A Misdemeanors. However, bringing a firearm into a restaurant or bar that sells alcohol or concealing your identity with a hood or mask while carrying a firearm will result in Class 4 Felony charges. Owning silencers or bombs could result in Class 3 Felony charges; selling, owning, or building machine guns will result in Class 2 Felony charges.
Firearms and UUW
As outlined in the Illinois Concealed Carry Act (430 ILCS 66), residents must have a Concealed Carry License (CCL) to carry a gun in public. They must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) to even own a firearm or ammunition. If you have either of these documents, it’s imperative they are maintained and kept up to date. An expired FOID card is as useful as no card at all.
What is an aggravated UUW charge?
Tacking the word “aggravated” onto a UUW charge will more often than not result in a more serious charge. This happens when one of the following is true:
- The offender has a firearm, like a stun gun or taser, in their vehicle
- The offender has a firearm in a public place without an FOID card or CCL
- The offender didn’t have a CCL and their gun was uncased, loaded, and easily accessible
- The offender didn’t have a CCL and their gun was uncased and unloaded, but the ammunition was immediately accessible
- The offender previously committed a separate crime that would’ve been a felony charge had they been an adult at the time
- The offender has previous misdemeanor charges for drug-related offenses
- The offender is under 21 and possessed a handgun
- Someone has taken out an order of protection against the offender in the two years before the offense
That addition of the word “aggravated” bumps the standard UUW misdemeanor charge up to Class 4 Felony.
Where an offense takes place also impacts a charge. Schools, public housing, public parks, courthouses, and public transportation property are all sites where a UUW charge automatically means you’re looking at a felony.
Having an attorney on your side could be the difference between a felony conviction and a misdemeanor conviction. If you or someone you know has been charged with the unlawful use of a weapon or the aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates today for a free consultation.