Illinois has strict gun laws so law enforcement agencies and district attorneys are extremely aggressive when investigating and prosecuting firearms offenses. While even possession of a firearm without proper licensing and registration can result in harsh consequences, unlawful discharge of a firearm is an extremely serious criminal offense because of the risk of potential injury or death to others. Anyone who has been arrested and charged with Aggravated or Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in Illinois should decline to answer any questions from police or other law enforcement officers and immediately assert their right to counsel. This type of gun offense is regarded as a felony, so you should seek immediate legal advice to mitigate the punishment that accompanies this type of serious gun crime.
Chicago aggravated or reckless discharge attorney David L. Freidberg has been practicing criminal law for over 20 years. He has handled a broad range of firearms cases and understands the potential prosecution strategies when states attorneys pursue charges based on the alleged discharge of a firearm. Depending on the specific facts of your Aggravated or Reckless Discharge case, Mr. Freidberg typically employs a range of defenses to protect his clients from this type of charge based on evidence revealed by his private detectives, ballistics experts and/or law enforcement reports and evidence.What Constitutes Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm under Illinois Law?
The Illinois gun offense of aggravated discharge is a weapons charge that applies when a firearm is discharged in a manner and under specific circumstances that make the act extremely unsafe. The factors that define this form of hazardous firing of a gun include the following:
Firing at Others: If you discharge a weapon in the direction of another person or a group of people, the prosecutor will charge you with aggravated discharge of a firearm. There is no requirement that you actually try to shoot or scare someone. The requirements of aggravated discharge are fulfilled if you merely shoot in the general direction of another individual or crowd of people. Additionally, even if you do not intend to actually injure an individual, if someone is shot the charge will most likely be increased to that of attempted murder.
Firing into a Vehicle or Structure: If you fire your gun into a vehicle or structure from outside, you may be arrested for aggravated discharge of a firearm in Chicago or elsewhere in Cook County. There is no requirement that someone actually be inside the vehicle or building, rather it is sufficient that you knew or should have known that someone could be inside the structure or vehicle.
Use of a Silencer: If you use a silencer when firing a machine gun or firearm, you will also be charged with aggravated discharge.
If the prosecutor attempts to convict you of aggravated discharge of a firearm, you will face exposure to a Class 1 Felony conviction, which is punishable by a 4 to 15 year term in the Illinois Department of Corrections (prison). There also are other penalties that may result if you are found guilty of this firearms offense, including a maximum fine up to $25,000.Factors Resulting in Enhanced Punishment for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm in Illinois
Whenever you are arrested because you allegedly discharged a gun in a manner that posed a potential danger to others, you may suffer severe penalties. However, there are situations where these penalties are increased based on certain aggravating facts. If the gun is discharged within a thousand feet of a park, school, bus or school-related or sponsored activity, the crime becomes a Class X Felony. The law also provides special protection to certain classes of victims who may be exposed to harm by this type of offense. If any of the following people could reasonably be present when you fire into a structure or vehicle, you will face a Class X Felony charge:
- Fire fighter
- Law enforcement officer
- Correctional Office or other employee of a correctional facility
- Community volunteer with the police
Class X felonies carry a mandatory minimum of six years in state prison, and depending on the specific offense, they can carry a maximum punishment of fifty years in the state penitentiary.What Constitutes Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in Illinois?
The Illinois criminal offense of Reckless Discharge involves firing a gun either irresponsibly or unintentionally in a manner that creates a risk of harm to others. An example of this type of offense would be discharging a firearm while traveling in a moving vehicle. Even if the driver of the vehicle is not the one that fires the weapon, the driver also may be charged if he was aware of the passenger’s actions.
If you are charged with Reckless Discharge, your exposure will include a Class 4 Felony, which carries a sentence of one to three years in state prison, community service, probation and/or a maximum fine up to $25,000.Conviction of Serious Gun Offenses in Illinois
While the formal punishments associated with firing a gun in a manner or under conditions that endanger others are extremely punitive, there are other life-long effects that may accompany such a conviction, such as:
- Restrictions on immigration privileges or deportation for non-citizens
- Disqualification for security clearances and certain occupational or professional licensing
- Barriers to college enrollment or exposure to university disciplinary action
- Prohibition from exercising certain constitutional rights like gun ownership
- Felony record available to employers, landlords or anyone who does a basic background check
- Possible impact in family law cases involving child custody
Despite the serious nature of the consequences that can flow from unsafe discharge of a firearm, an arrest is not a conviction. Mr. Freidberg works diligently to develop an effective defense to such charges designed to seek acquittal or dismissal of the charge or a favorable reduction in the offense. Although the specific defense will depend on the facts of your case, he may seek to have the gun suppressed because of an unlawful search, expose unreliable eyewitness testimony or obtain the exclusion of incriminating statements resulting from unlawful coercion or violation of Miranda warnings. We recommend that those charged with Aggravated or Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in Cook County or the surrounding areas speak with one of our Chicago weapons crimes defense attorneys. We offer a confidential consultation that is free of charge. Please contact us at 312-560-7100 or email us to learn how we can help.