The Second Amendment guarantees the right of United States citizens to keep and bear arms, but that right is not absolute and may not be exercised with unbridled abandon. Occasionally, the average layman may misunderstand the scope of weapons regulations , or even willfully decide to violate them. Either way, an attorney knowledgeable on the subject can help ensure that such a charge is dealt with appropriately and in a timely fashion.
Understanding Illinois Weapon Laws
The offenses grouped under the vague category of “weapons charges” are numerous and varied. Most are related to improper carrying, display, or use of a firearm in an inappropriate place, but using or brandishing any weapon can land its owner in trouble with the law, as well as owning one without a license or FOID (firearm owner’s identification card). Illinois does have fairly stringent gun control laws, with several small details that can prove problematic if they are not sufficiently understood.
It is important to understand that Illinois’s weapons laws are quite strict, which means that many offenses—especially those involving firearms—are charged as felonies, even if no one is harmed. A common example is having an uncased gun in one’s vehicle, which is an unlawful use of a weapon (UUW) under Illinois law. An UUW can be a misdemeanor, but depending on the circumstances of the case, it may rise to the level of a Class 4 felony—all in response to an action that may have been a simple oversight by the defendant.
Tell the Truth
A person who has been charged with a weapons offense may face misdemeanor or felony consequences. The most important thing to remember is that there are multiple factors that can affect the severity of a charge, such as a person’s status in terms of past convictions—those convicted of a felony lose their right to firearm ownership in Illinois—or the position of a weapon at the time of police intervention. For example, if someone who has never been previously charged with a weapons violation is charged with unlawful use of a weapon in a private home, the result might be a misdemeanor, while someone with previous convictions might be charged with a felony.
It is imperative for a person to be honest with both the court and his or her attorney, regardless of the nature of the charge. Sadly, it is not uncommon for those charged with weapons violations to obfuscate or otherwise stretch the truth, so as to save their pride or out of a mistaken belief that certain details are irrelevant. The fallout for concealing facts can be significant, both in regard to penalties assessed at trial and in terms of missing the chance to plead to a lesser offense.
Contact a Weapons Law Attorney
Any weapons charge, no matter whether a misdemeanor or a felony, has the potential to be significant, with long-lasting effects on one’s life and livelihood. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney for assistance with your case. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.