Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon
When you suffer felony convictions under Illinois or federal law, you may lose certain rights including your Second Amendment right to own or possess a firearm. Although police and prosecutors aggressively pursue all weapons charges, they are particularly tough on convicted felons arrested while in possession of an illegal firearm or other prohibited weapon. If you are charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon, the first fact you must be aware of is that the charge is a bit of a misnomer because there is no “use” required for you to be convicted of this offense if you have a felony record. Mere possession of a firearm is sufficient to constitute a violation. Even if you have no intention to use, carry, transport or otherwise do anything more than store the firearm, this will still result in potential exposure to a conviction of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Even if a firearm that is owned by someone else is found in your home, you can be charged with UUW Felon.
At the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, we recognize that those with criminal records already face serious barriers to employment, higher education, loans, occupations licensing, housing and other hardships. When a felon is convicted because of illegal possession of a firearm or other prohibited weapon, this conviction can increase these challenges exponentially so Mr. Freidberg diligently defends clients accused of this serious gun charge.
Sometimes the officer may claim to have observed the gun in “plain view” during a traffic stop, or the officer may otherwise have conducted an illegal search. When the firearm is obtained during an illegal search, Mr. Freidberg may file for a hearing through a motion asking the court to suppress the firearm. Without a weapon, the prosecutor frequently will find that the case against our client has disintegrated. We have a team of experienced defense investigators and forensics experts, as well as a team of attorneys, that have built a reputation for zealous defense in weapons cases based on tenaciously preparing cases for trial rather than waiting for the prosecutor to make a plea offer.What Must the Prosecutor Prove to Obtain a Conviction of Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon in Cook County?
This criminal offense is defined under Illinois law pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1 as the knowing possession of a prohibited weapon under Section 24.1 as well as an firearm/gun or ammo by anyone who has any type of felony record. This restriction applies to carrying the weapon, gun or ammo on one’s person as well as in the person’s home, place of business or vehicle. The felony upon which the unlawful use by a felon charge is based does not need to be an Illinois conviction; rather a felony conviction under the state law in any jurisdiction and federal law will suffice.Consequences of Felon in Possession Weapons Charge Conviction in Illinois
The consequences of a conviction for violation of this provision are significant as this criminal offense constitutes a Class 2 Felony. Further, you will not be eligible for probation, so if you are convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in Illinois, the judge does not have the discretion to allow you to avoid state prison. The other consequences that may flow from a criminal conviction of this nature will be all too familiar if you have suffered a felony conviction in the past, including substantial fines and assessments, community service, a felony conviction and more.
On top of these court imposed penalties, you will also suffer a wide range of other negative effects that may include but are certainly not limited to the following:
- Difficulty obtaining rental housing
- Lack of eligibility for some state employment licenses
- Academic discipline for college students
- Ineligibility for some forms of student aid like certain loans and grants
- Potential adverse action by USCIS, including but not limited to removal, exclusion, denial of citizenship and inability to adjust status
- Use by prospective employers and others who conduct background checks
While any gun charge can result in consequences that significantly disrupt your life and result in forfeiture of your liberty, felon in possession of a firearm is among the most serious type of gun crimes in Illinois. The precise sentence that is imposed depends on the underlying felony that led to your inability to possess a gun or other firearm. If the underlying felony conviction was a Class 2 Felony, for example, you could face a sentence of three to fourteen years in state prison. In a case where the prior felony conviction is a Class 3 Felony (i.e. somewhat less serious), the range of sentence for a conviction of felon in possession of a weapon is two to ten years.
If you have two prior felony convictions that include those specifically enumerated in 720 ILCS 5/24-1.7(a)(2), forcible felony offenses or drug offenses that are at least a Class 3 Felony, you may even be charged as an Armed Habitual Criminal and face even more severe penalties. This offense is a Class X Felony and you will not be eligible for probation and may be sentenced from six to thirty years of incarceration.Defense Strategies in Cases Involving Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
There are many situations where a person can inadvertently facing a felon in possession charge in Cook County despite good faith attempts not to violate the law. A person may have been convicted of a felony many years before and have forgotten about any restrictions on firearms because the person has rehabilitated his or her life. Sometimes people face this charge merely because they reside in a house where a gun is present without realizing that the gun is even being stored in the dwelling.
Because of the harsh consequences of a Chicago unlawful use of a weapon charge, you should consider retaining one of our experienced Chicago gun crime attorneys who may employ a range of defenses that include but are not restricted to the following:
- The accused gave notice to a law enforcement agency that the gun was being transported to the agency
- The firearm was found by the accused
- The gun was taken from someone who was using it in the commission of a crime against the accused
- Improper search in violation of the Fourth Amendment
- Illegally obtained statements or confessions
- Lack of knowledge the firearm was present
This is a sampling of the defense strategies that may be used by a Chicago unlawful use of a weapon lawyer at our law firm to protect those with criminal records from conviction of serious gun charges. We know that it can be extremely intimidating to have the resources and power of law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor’s office pursuing a criminal case to damage your reputation and deprive you of your freedom. Our Illinois felon in possession attorneys work diligently to investigate factual deficiencies and expose misconduct or improper procedures by law enforcement so that we can obtain the best possible outcome for our clients facing weapons charges in Chicago. We offer an absolutely confidential consultation so that we can explain your rights and discuss your options. We invite you to contact us at 312-560-7100 or email us to learn how we can help.