Supreme Court Ruling Leaves FOID Defendant in Limbo

Here’s the story. The police showed up at a woman’s house claiming that someone had called in saying she discharged a weapon inside of her home. They found a .22 caliber single-shot Remington rifle on the property and promptly charged her for possessing a weapon without a FOID card. The weapon had not been discharged, and witnesses at the apartment complex said they did not hear a gunshot. It turned out that the call was made by an estranged ex who wanted to engineer a criminal prosecution against the defendant.

The defendant argued that Illinois’ FOID Law was unconstitutional. The circuit court agreed and vacated her prosecution. However, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on the Constitutionality of Illinois’ FOID card law and would not rule that it was unconstitutional. The prosecution may be remanded back to the circuit court leaving the prosecution unclear under the law. Below, we will discuss the law and why it may be unconstitutional.

Is Illinois’ FOID Card Law Constitutional?

Yes, mostly. In order to understand it, you have to understand two different types of possession (which as they say, is 9/10ths of the law). If you want to carry a gun, Illinois law requires that you also have a FOID card on your person at all times (actual possession). In order to be charged with a gun crime, the prosecution need only establish that you are in constructive possession of the weapon (it is accessible to you inside of your home). This would require all gun owners to take their FOID cards into the shower with them or risk facing violations under Illinois’ FOID card act.

In this case, the defendant also argued that the law placed an undue burden on Illinois residents insofar as it made it illegal for a law-abiding citizen with no history of criminal activity or mental health issues to possess a weapon in their own home. It is still illegal to purchase or transport the weapon to your home, but whether or not the law can be enforced within the home is now under consideration by the courts.

The biggest issue comes down to enforceability. How do you force a gun owner to have actual possession of a FOID card on their person at all times within their home? In this case, the court ruled that the FOID card requirement was not applicable within a home as it would violate other constitutional protections related to illegal searches. In other words, the law was ill-considered and created a mess. But now there is a defendant who could potentially face criminal charges and lose her eligibility to own a gun. The matter remains unsettled and will require clarification moving forward. 

Talk to a Chicago Gun Crimes Attorney Today

Charged with a gun crime in Illinois? You are not alone. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 

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