A Chicago man was charged last week with aggravated discharge of a firearm after firing shots at another vehicle on the Dan Ryan Expressway. The victim’s car sideswiped a second vehicle, causing it to crash into a center divider. Additional charges are expected to be filed.
Chicago Aggravated Discharge of Firearm
A person commits the crime of aggravated discharge of a firearm in Illinois if the firearm is discharged “in the direction of a vehicle he or she knows or reasonably should know to be occupied by a person.” Aggravated discharge of a firearm is a Class 1 felony, and carries with it the possibility of 4-15 years in prison.
There is no need to prove intent to harm in order to be convicted of aggravated discharge of a firearm. Just having fired the weapon in the direction of a vehicle is enough.
The police indicate that additional charges may be filed. One potential charge may be for aggravated battery. This crime occurs when a person discharges a firearm and causes injury to another person. In this case, the alleged shooter could potentially face two counts of aggravated battery – one against the person the shots were fired at, and a second for injuring the driver of the second vehicle.
The alleged shooter can be charged with aggravated battery in this case – even though he did not directly cause the injury to the second driver – because his action of discharging the firearm set in motion the chain of events that caused the second driver to be injured.
Defenses to Illinois Charge of Aggravated Discharge of Firearm
In this case, as the firearm was discharged toward a moving vehicle, it would seem there is little room to make the argument that the defendant did not reasonably know the vehicle fired at was occupied. However, that does not mean there are no available defenses.
In any criminal case, the first line of defense would be to determine whether the eyewitnesses identified the correct individual. In this case, the shooting happened while the vehicles were driving on the expressway at high speeds. It also occurred at night. Both these facts tend to make it more difficult for the eyewitnesses to identify the shooter, so a careful review of their testimony is necessary to ensure the police arrested the right man.
Close examination of the forensic evidence in this case is necessary to ensure that the prosecution charges the correct person. In this situation, the vehicle from which the shots were fired was occupied by the alleged shooter and a passenger. A team of experts would examine the forensic evidence to make sure there are no other possible explanations regarding the shooter’s identity.
Evidence that may be present to cast doubt on the shooter’s identity could include:
- Gunpowder residue found on the passenger’s hands, which could indicate that she was the shooter;
- Lack of gunpowder residue found on the alleged shooter’s hands, which could disprove that he was the shooter;
- The passenger’s fingerprints being found on the weapon, and;
- Lack of the alleged shooter’s fingerprints on the weapon.
While acquittal is always the goal, if it seems unlikely from a review of the evidence that acquittal is possible, an attorney would seek to reduce the charges to reckless discharge of a firearm. This would require review of the weapon to determine if the evidence can support a conclusion that the discharge was unintentional and due to a defect or other mechanical problem with the weapon. Forensic experts would assist in examining the weapon to determine whether the discharge was due to a weapon malfunction.
Chicago Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm Attorney
If you have been arrested or charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm, you should consult a Chicago criminal defense attorney immediately. Weapons charges carry hefty penalties that include lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. In addition, if convicted you will be required to report the felony on future job and possibly housing applications, which may seriously impact your future housing and job prospects. You need an experienced attorney who will examine all of the evidence in your case and zealously defend you at all stages of the criminal process. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. has more than 18 years of experience defending criminal defendants in felony and misdemeanor cases. Call us at 312-560-7100 or contact our Chicago office today for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 for your convenience.