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Chicago Father Faces Charges After Son Shoots Himself in Hand

A Chicago-area father is facing charges after his son shot himself in the hand with a household gun. Bernard Shields, 36, of Chicago is facing a felony charge of being a habitual criminal in possession of a weapon with a filed-off serial number. He is also facing a felony count of possession of a controlled substance and several misdemeanor counts related to the discharge of the weapon and child endangerment. 

What Happened?

The parents were asleep when the boy found the gun in one of his father’s pants. Anyone who owns a gun should know better than to keep it in their pants when there are children around. He took the gun to the bathroom, ostensibly to play with it, and the gun discharged, injuring his hand. The child was taken to Children’s Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and then sent home. His father fled the scene knowing that police would be arriving shortly, but was later found and arrested. 

Illinois Armed Habitual Criminal Statute

Of the litany of offenses the defendant is facing, being an armed habitual criminal is among the most serious. How does one qualify to become an armed habitual criminal? You need multiple weapons convictions. Specifically, you need to have two or more illegal weapons charges prior to the next one. If you face a third weapons charge, then you can be labeled an armed habitual criminal and face steeper charges. Additionally, if you have been convicted of a forcible felony or certain drug charges, the weapons offense can be categorized as habitual.

How steep are the penalties under this statute? The armed habitual criminal statute makes it a Class-X felony to be a habitual criminal in possession of a weapon. Judges are required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of six years and could face a maximum sentence of 30 years. 

Standard weapons possession charges are categorized as class-three or class-four felonies. Class-four felonies carry a minimum sentence of one year while class-three felonies carry a minimum sentence of at least three years. 

Issues Involving This Statute

Armed habitual criminal charges are a nightmare for criminal defense attorneys. There is not much wiggle room to negotiate with the prosecution. The weapons charge itself is the only entry point into the case that could be leveraged against the prosecution and prosecution can bring in evidence of prior convictions against the defendant. Given the severity of the sentence and the prosecution’s strong bargaining position, defense attorneys are often left pushing the case to trial in order to gain an acquittal in front of a jury. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing criminal charges in Cook County, then you will need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney to ensure that the situation is resolved with the best possible terms for you. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.

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