Chicago Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Defense Lawyer

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Gun control is a hot-button issue in the United States, and Illinois is no exception to the national debate. The state has a range of gun laws that govern the possession, use, and distribution of firearms. One area of particular focus is the prohibition against unlawful possession of a firearm. This article will delve into the statutes, penalties, and legal implications of unlawfully possessing a firearm in Illinois.

Illinois Statutes on Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Unlawful possession of firearms, firearm ammunition, or explosives is generally governed under Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) 720 ILCS 5/24-1.

This statute prohibits:

  1. Possession of any firearm by a person under 18 years of age, or 21 if the person has been convicted of a misdemeanor.
  2. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
  3. Possession of a firearm within school zones, government buildings, public housing, or any place where alcoholic beverages are sold.
  4. Possession of firearms with intent to use them unlawfully against another person.

Elements of the Offense

To secure a conviction under the 720 ILCS 5/24-1 statute, the State must prove:

  1. Actual or Constructive Possession: The defendant had physical control over the firearm or knew it was present and had the ability to maintain control over it.
  2. Illegal Status: The defendant falls into one of the prohibited categories for possession, such as being a convicted felon or being underage.
  3. Knowledge: The defendant knowingly possessed the firearm.

Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

  • Imprisonment: Penalties range from misdemeanors carrying less than a year in jail to felonies that can lead to multiple years in state prison.
  • Fines: Financial penalties can vary significantly depending on the severity of the offense and can extend into the tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Forfeiture: Conviction often leads to the seizure and forfeiture of the unlawfully possessed firearm.
  • Revocation of FOID Card: Conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm often leads to the revocation of the person’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card, further restricting their gun ownership rights.

Defenses Against Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Criminal Charges

  1. Lack of Knowledge: If the accused did not know they were in possession of the firearm, it could serve as a valid defense.
  2. Ownership Dispute: If the weapon was not in the accused’s possession but was instead in a common area, ownership might be disputable.
  3. Improper Search and Seizure: If law enforcement did not follow proper procedure during the arrest, any evidence gathered could be inadmissible.
  1. Navigating Complex Laws: Gun laws in Illinois are notoriously complex. Misinterpretation of statutes, or ignorance of them, is not a valid defense in court. Expert legal advice is crucial.
  2. Bargaining for Lesser Charges: Experienced lawyers can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charge to a lesser offense, which usually carries lighter penalties.
  3. Building a Strong Defense: From questioning the legality of the search and seizure to disputing ownership, a lawyer can provide invaluable strategies for defense.

From the moment of arrest, the clock starts ticking on critical legal deadlines and opportunities. There is an arraignment, potential bail hearings, motions to suppress evidence, and possibly a trial. A legal team can guide you through these steps, ensuring that you make informed decisions at each stage.

Long-Term Implications

A conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm in Illinois has lasting repercussions, from the loss of gun ownership rights to difficulties in finding employment and housing. It may also affect one’s ability to obtain professional licenses or security clearances, and it can even influence child custody battles.

Understanding the Implications on Civil Liberties

A conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm in Illinois has far-reaching implications beyond just legal penalties. It can impact one’s civil liberties, including the fundamental right to bear arms. The Second Amendment provides a constitutional right to gun ownership, but states like Illinois have the authority to impose reasonable restrictions. When a person is convicted under Illinois’ firearms laws, they can lose not just their state rights to possess a firearm but could also become federally prohibited from owning firearms.

Enhancements and Aggravating Factors

It’s essential to understand that certain circumstances can elevate the severity of the charges and penalties. For example, possessing a weapon as a convicted felon carries harsher penalties than possession by a minor. Other aggravating factors could include the possession of stolen firearms, possession with the intent to distribute, or possession in furtherance of another crime, such as drug trafficking.

Federal Criminal Charges

In addition to state-level charges, it’s possible for individuals to face federal criminal charges for unlawful possession of a firearm. Federal charges can result from violating the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the National Firearms Act. Federal convictions often lead to severe penalties, including long-term imprisonment and substantial fines. Furthermore, a federal conviction typically has collateral consequences that affect your civil liberties at a national level, not just within Illinois.

Unlawful possession of a firearm in Illinois is a severe offense that carries hefty penalties and long-term implications. Understanding the state’s complicated laws and regulations on gun ownership is crucial for anyone facing these charges. Legal representation is not merely an option but a necessity for anyone who wants to navigate this complex landscape effectively. Given the high stakes involved, if you are facing charges for unlawful possession of a firearm in Illinois, consult a qualified attorney as soon as possible.

Aggressive Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer with Decades of Experience

Over the past two decades, David L. Freidberg has gained a dearth of knowledge on the Illinois Compiled Statutes Criminal Code, evidence, rules of criminal procedure, and the U.S. Constitution. David L. Freidberg strives to combine his training, experience, skills, and passion for serving vulnerable communities to provide clients with unparalleled representation. To schedule a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg 24/7 at (312) 560-7100 or toll free at (800) 803-1442.

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