Charges and Penalties for Possession of a Firearm in Chicago

sawyer-bengtson-279792-copy-200x300Chicago law makes a distinction between merely possessing a firearm illegally and using a legal firearm for illegal purposes. If the crime is of unlawful shooting whilst in possession of an illegal firearm, the penalties are increased. This is because it is considered to be an aggravating factor to use an illegal firearm to commit any crime under the provisions of the handgun law.

To be absolutely clear, a person in Chicago can be prosecuted for both possessing an illegal firearm and using a legal firearm to commit a crime. Because Chicago has been dubbed the “Gun Crime Capital of the World,” the authorities are anxious to ensure that crimes of gun violence are severely punished. That is not to say that Chicago is willing to engage in full gun control.

For example, the illegal possession of a handgun is a Class 4 Felony in Chicago and can carry a term of imprisonment of up to three years. The possession of other firearms is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor, which could lead up to a year in jail as well as a fine of up to $2500. Your lawyers may be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge.

Origins and Implementation of Laws Against the Illegal Use of Firearms

Chicago is naturally obliged to respect the United States Constitution, including the right to bear arms. However, the state of Illinois has shown a fairly flexible approach to gun issues even against the backdrop of constant criticism from the political right about the high levels of gun crime as well as a number of myths about the state. That is why many people in Chicago are still allowed to retain guns for personal safety reasons but are severely punished if they break the law.

One of the key issues that was identified in terms of gun control was to specify the types of arms that an ordinary member of the public is allowed to have. Moreover, there are certain exclusions for certain categories of people as follows:

  • Minors below 18 years of age
  • Those who are under 21 years of age and have been convicted of a misdemeanor excluding traffic offenses
  • Those who are addicted to narcotics
  • Those who have been diagnosed with a mental disability or alternatively have been placed in a mental hospital within the last five years, excluding those who were voluntarily admitted as part of an alcohol abuse rehabilitation program
  • Those who have been convicted of a felony

Types of Guns That are Illegal to Possess if You are an Ordinary Citizen

Chicago has a list of banned firearms that you are not allowed to possess if you are an ordinary citizen or resident within the state jurisdiction. These include:

  • Machine Guns
  • Rifles or Shotguns that are modified to less than 26 inches
  • Rifles that have a barrel that is shorter than 16 inches
  • Shotguns with a barrel that is shorter than 18 inches

These provisions are meant to reduce violent crimes within the state.

Restrictions on the Possession and Use of Ammunition

The city of Chicago has banned the possession and use of particular types of ammunition including explosives and those that have armor-piercing rounds. Your criminal defense attorneys can explain the details further. It is also prohibited to possess or use a gun that is fitted with a silencer. Typically, the courts will consider the possession and use of illegal ammunition as a separate charge from the weapons charges. This is to highlight the seriousness of the individual incidents.

Certain Restrictions by Area

There are certain areas in which a person is not allowed to have ammunition or even a firearm. For example, a school property is a restricted area. The penalties for such an offense are those of a Class 2 felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years. The law in Chicago allows private enterprises to restrict access to their premises and ban guns as part of the conditions for admittance.

Need Legal Assistance for Firearms Charges in Chicago?

The best solution is to contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at 312-560-7100.

(image courtesy of Sawyer Bengtson)