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Understanding what unlawful use of a weapon means

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Although the constitution provides U.S. citizens with the right to keep and bear arms, there are various requirements under Illinois law you must comply with if you carry a gun.

You must obtain a concealed carry permit to carry your weapon in public, and all weapon owners must have a firearm owner’s identification card, or FOID.

If you do not comply with these requirements, you could be charged with unlawful use of a weapon or aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Both crimes come with serious penalties.

Unlawful use vs. aggravated unlawful use

Carrying a weapon in public without your concealed carry permit could result in an arrest for unlawful use of a weapon. Your charge could be upgraded to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon if your gun is loaded or if your FOID card is not on you.

You may even face an aggravated charge if you have an expired FOID card on you. Your charge could be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Potential penalties

However, you could face a fine of up to $2,500 and jail time of up to a year even with a misdemeanor conviction. A felony conviction could result in prison time of up to 7 years.

These harsh penalties mean that a strong defense to a weapons charge is necessary. As with any criminal case, the prosecution must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

For example, they must show that you were in possession of your weapon at the time of the offense. Additionally, many times, these charges are the result of a traffic stop for a different violation.

There must be a valid legal basis for the initial stop, or the firearm charge could be thrown out.

These are just some potential defenses that could work in your favor. Every charge depends on the specific facts of your situation, so having a professional analyze your case and examine the evidence is important.