A Chicago-area father is facing weapons charges after his 3-year-old son shot and killed his own mother while playing with the weapon in the back seat. The father is now facing a misdemeanor gun charge. The mother was brought to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. The child has been offered trauma counseling services that he will likely need for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, the father is facing a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully transporting a weapon. The father had a license for the gun, but transporting it in the backseat of your vehicle while your 3-year-old is back there is considered a crime.
Accidental shootings involving children are now a major problem across the United States. Since 2015, over 2,000 individuals have been accidentally shot by children. 90% of those individuals were other children with about 70% of the shootings happening in the home. The pandemic and quarantine made the situation worse, with accidental shootings rising over that period.
It is unclear what will happen to the child after the event or if he will be allowed to remain in the custody of his father. With his mother dead, he may not have many options.
Understanding the Charges
If you are a gun owner, then you likely understand your rights and responsibilities. Not everyone does, however. In order to transfer a weapon in your vehicle (which is perfectly legal, even in Illinois), it must be both unloaded and in a case. In this case, the firearm was both loaded and accessible to a 3-year-old child. Since neither of these conditions were met, the FOID holder is legally accountable for the criminal act of transporting a gun unsafely.
Now, the father would never have faced any charges had his son not picked up the weapon and fired it. But that is beside the point. The father could be facing significant charges, but prosecutors were likely lenient on him because they feel as though the man may have suffered enough for one lifetime. He now has to deal with the death of his partner and the fact that his son is the one who pulled the trigger. If he is a decent father, he may spend the rest of his life convincing the child that the shooting was not the boy’s fault. But then, whose fault is it?
Had the prosecution wanted to, they could have hung felony weapons charges on him and also added reckless endangerment of a child and the mother. They could have even charged him with involuntary manslaughter. It would have been a difficult case to make, but allowing a child access to a loaded weapon could qualify if the prosecutor was aggressive enough. In that case, the defendant would be left arguing that his actions were merely negligent but did not rise to the standard of recklessness.
Even without aggressive charges, both father and son will have a difficult road ahead of them.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with a weapons offense, call the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.