Shooting sports and hunting practices are vulnerable American traditions, and their practitioners enjoy legal protection. However, when you discharge your firearm recklessly–whether you intended harm–you’re exposing yourself to serious criminal liability. Illegal discharge of firearms is a serious felony, with penalties ranging from heavy fines to time in prison. If you have been charged with an illegal discharge of a firearm, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Here at Ktenas Law, our Chicago weapons crime attorneys have spent decades fighting on both sides of the court. As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we know what needs to be done to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. We’ll fight fiercely for your freedom, from meticulous preparation for pretrial motions investigating your case. We know many people are unfairly accused of weapon crimes.
For a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, call us today at (312) 756-8600, or chat with us online.
What Is An Armed Habitual Criminal Charge?
In Illinois, when a person is charged with an armed habitual offense, it means allegedly they received, sold, possessed, or transferred firearms after two or more convictions of the following offenses:
- Forcible felony. This involves using or threatening to use violence or physical force against another person, including an aggravated battery that caused bodily harm or disfigurement, or permanent disability.
- Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW), unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (UUWF), or aggravated discharge of a firearm, which are all severe and often violent firearm offenses.
- Aggravated intimidation. This is intimidation committed in furtherance of organized or gang crime activity and is intended to prevent an individual from being a community policing volunteer. The offense can be committed against a peace officer carrying out official duties.
- Gunrunning. This entails the transfer of three or more weapons.
- Vehicle hijacking. This is often a violent crime.
- Aggravated battery of a minor, which is inherently violent.
- Aggravated Battery with a weapon.
- Home invasion.
- Violation of the Cannabis Act or the Illinois Controlled Substance Act. This is a Class 3 felony or higher.
The armed habitual criminal charge also includes intimidation. Intimidation is defined as intending to make a person do something by threatening them with confinement or physical harm, or any of the following:
- Exposing them to contempt, hatred, or ridicule
- Harming another person
- Threatening to commit another felony or Class A misdemeanor
- Accusing anyone of a crime
- Taking action as a public officer against them
- Bringing about a boycott or strike
The armed habitual criminal charge aims to show the justice system that the defendant isn’t afraid to threaten or use force or violence with a weapon against another individual. And it shows previous criminal convictions haven’t deterred the defendant from that behavior.
How Serious is Armed Habitual Criminal Charge in Chicago?
If you have been charged with previous offenses in Illinois, and you’re caught possessing, transferring, or selling weapons, you’re at risk of being charged as an Armed Habitual Criminal. This is a serious charge, and you’ll need the legal help of a competent Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Our team of experienced Chicago criminal defense attorneys has been helping clients across Illinois who have been charged with armed habitual charges fight their charges and get the best possible outcome. We can help you, too, if you’re facing a small to complex criminal charge.
How Long is a Gun Charge in Chicago?
If you’re convicted of a gun charge in Chicago, you’ll face anywhere from 3 to 7 years in jail, 1-4 years in prison, or up to one year in county jail.
What Constitutes Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in Chicago?
According to the Illinois criminal defense of Reckless Discharge, reckless discharge entails firing a weapon carelessly or unintentionally endangering or harming others. This includes firing a gun while traveling in a moving vehicle. Even if the driver of the vehicle isn’t the one who fires the gun, the driver may also be charged if he/she was aware of the passenger’s actions.
A Reckless Discharge charge exposes you to a Class 4 Felony, which carries a sentence of one to three years in state prison, probation, community service, and/or a maximum fine of up to $25,000.
Although the formal punishments linked with discharging a firearm in a way or under conditions that endanger others are severe, other lifelong consequences that might accompany such a conviction, including:
- Disqualification for security clearance and certain career or occupational licensing
- Deportation for non-citizens or restrictions on immigration privileges
- Exposure to university disciplinary action or barriers to college enrollment
- Disqualification from certain constitutional rights, such as gun ownership
- Felony record available to landlords, employees, and anyone who conducts a background check
- Influence family law cases, such as child custody cases.
What Is Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm Under Illinois Law?
Under Illinois law, the gun defense of aggravated discharge is a weapon charge that applies when someone discharges a firearm in a manner and under specific conditions that make the actions extremely unsafe. The following factors define hazardous firing of a firearm:
- Firing at Others. If you fire a gun toward another person or a group of people, you’ll be charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm. It’s illegal to try to shoot or scare someone. The requirements of aggravated discharge are met if you merely shoot toward another person or a group of people. Besides, even though you don’t intend to injure anyone, and someone is shot, most likely your charges will be increased to attempted murder.
- Firing into a structure or vehicle. If you fire your firearm into a structure or vehicle from outside, in Cook County, you may be arrested for aggravated discharge or elsewhere in Illinois. There’s no requirement that someone is inside that structure or vehicle, instead, it’s sufficient that you knew or should have known that someone was inside the building or the vehicle.
- Use of a silencer. If you use a silencer while firing a machine gun or firearm, you’ll be charged with aggravated discharge, too.
If a prosecutor tries to convict you of an aggravated discharge of a firearm, you may face a Class 1 Felony conviction, which is punishable by a 4 to 15-year jail time in prison. Other penalties that you may face if found guilty of an aggravated discharge of firearm offense include a maximum fine of up to $25,000.
What Factors Result in Increased Punishment for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm in Cook County, Illinois?
If you’re arrested because allegedly you fired a firearm in a way that posed a potential danger to others, you may face severe penalties. However, there are certain situations where these penalties may be increased based on certain aggravating circumstances. For example, if you fire a gun within a thousand feet of a park, school, bus, or school-related activity, the offense becomes a Class X Felony.
Also, Illinois law provides special protection to certain classes of victims who may be exposed to harm by this type of offense. If any of the following persons is present when you fire a firearm into a building or vehicle, you will face a Class X Felony charge:
- Law enforcement officer
- Community volunteer with the police
- Correction Officer or other employees of a correctional facility.
Typically, Class X felonies carry a mandatory minimum of six years in state prison and depending on the type of offense, they can carry a maximum punishment of 50 years in the state penitentiary.
Contact A Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney Today!
Despite the serious consequences that flow from the unsafe discharge of a firearm, an arrest isn’t a conviction. Our Chicago criminal defense lawyers will work diligently to develop a solid defense to such charges designed to seek acquittal or dismissal of the charge or a favorable reduction in the offense.
Although the specific defense will largely depend on your case, our attorneys will seek to have the firearm suppressed because of an unlawful search, expose unreliable witness testimony, or exclude incriminating statements resulting from unlawful coercion or violation of Miranda warning. If you have been charged with aggravated or reckless discharge of a firearm in Cook County or the surrounding areas, speak with one of our competent Chicago weapons crime defense lawyers. For a free initial consultation, contact us today at (312) 756-8600, or chat with us online to learn how we can help.