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Rolling Meadows gun crime defense attorneyIn Illinois and throughout the U.S., people have the constitutional right to bear arms. However, that does not mean the possession of firearms and other weapons is unregulated. Illinois prohibits the possession of certain kinds of weapons outright and requires gun owners to obtain a Firearm Owners ID card (FOID) in order to be in compliance with state law. If you have been convicted of a felony in Illinois or another state, your FOID can be revoked, and future applications for an FOID can be denied. You may also face serious criminal penalties if you are found to be in unlawful possession of a weapon with a previous felony conviction on your record.

What Types of Weapons Are Prohibited for Convicted Felons?

As with all people in the State of Illinois, convicted felons are prohibited from knowingly possessing certain kinds of dangerous weapons under any circumstances, including bludgeons, metal knuckles, throwing stars, and switchblades. However, convicted felons are, under most circumstances, also prohibited from possessing any kind of firearm or ammunition, even those that are legally permitted in Illinois under other circumstances. The only exception is a situation in which a felon has successfully appealed for relief in court or with the Director of the Illinois State Police.

Consequences for a Felon’s Unlawful Possession of a Weapon 

The basic sentence for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon in Illinois is a Class 3 felony, which can include between 2 and 10 years in prison. For repeat offenses, the sentence increases to a Class 2 felony, and the length of imprisonment increases to between 3 and 14 years. However, under certain circumstances, a first offense can be charged as a Class 2 felony. This includes cases in which the offender’s prior conviction was for:

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What Does Unlawful Use of Weapons Mean in Illinois?The term “unlawful use of weapons” is somewhat misleading. In Illinois, you do not have to be actively using the weapon in order to be charged with unlawful use. More often, people are arrested for possessing the weapon after a police officer has stopped them due to allegedly criminal or suspicious behavior. Actively using a weapon is a different criminal charge in Illinois, such as aggravated discharge of a firearm or armed violence. A charge of unlawful use of weapons can be a felony depending on the type of weapon you have, where you were found with it, and whether you have previous weapons charges.

Unlawful Use and Aggravated Unlawful Use

Illinois residents are allowed to carry certain weapons, such as a handgun, as long as they have a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card and a Concealed Carry License (CCL). However, there are some weapons that are illegal to possess, such as switchblades, machine guns, and explosives. It is also illegal to bring a weapon into many public places, including schools, government buildings, and places of worship. These violations are classified as unlawful use of weapons because there is often an assumption that the suspect intended to use the weapon.

A charge of aggravated unlawful use of weapons occurs when there are other elements to the offense, such as:

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Illinois Changing Limits of Concealed Carry Gun LawIllinois’ concealed carry weapons law allows licensed gun owners to carry a gun for the purpose of self-protection. However, there is also a long list of places where guns are prohibited, even if you have a license to carry one. It is a criminal offense to knowingly possess a weapon when entering public properties such as schools, parks, and courthouses. In some cases, possessing a weapon within 1,000 feet of specified properties can be against the law. In the past year, Illinois courts have dismantled some of the concealed carry restrictions that were deemed to have violated people’s Second Amendment rights.

Recent Rulings

The Illinois Supreme Court made the first significant ruling when hearing the case of People v. Chairez in February 2018. In the case, the defendant petitioned to throw out his conviction for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a public park on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional. Both an Illinois circuit court and the Supreme Court agreed that the law put an undue burden on the defendant.

The February ruling was limited to public parks but set a precedent for cases involving other properties that banned weapons possession within 1,000 feet. In June 2018, an appellate court overturned a defendant’s conviction for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a public school, citing the earlier Supreme Court ruling.

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