Reckless Discharge of a Weapon in Illinois

Updated on 08/11/2023 / Under

Reckless discharge of a weapon in Illinois is a criminal offense that is regarded as a felony, and anyone facing this type of charge should seek legal advice immediately. Illinois has some of the strongest gun laws in the United States. Individuals who are interested in owning a firearm are required to undergo extensive background checks before being permitted to own a firearm.

These checks are done in an attempt to keep weapons out of the hands of people with criminal charges, and those crimes can range from gun crimes to domestic violence, and more. Law enforcement and district attorneys are very aggressive when investigating and prosecuting firearms offenses.

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How Does Illinois Law Define Reckless Discharge of a Firearm?

According to the Illinois General Assembly, the reckless discharge of a firearm is defined as "discharging a firearm in a reckless manner which endangers the bodily safety of an individual" (720 ILCS 5/24-1.5), and this is classified as a Class 4 felony. If charged, an individual can expect anywhere from 1 to 3 years in jail, and a fine of up to $25,000. A prosecutor is required to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual facing these charges fired a weapon with no disregard for the bodily safety and well-being of the people around them.

If the crime was committed from the passenger side of a vehicle, the driver is also held accountable and could face charges. The crime is considered aggravated discharge if the firearm is fired in the direction of an individual, a group of people, or into a building/vehicle if the person using the weapon knows that there could be people that could be harmed.

hooded man holding a gun, reckless discharge of a weapon in illinois

If the crime has taken place within one thousand feet of a school, or where there is a gathering of certain demographics, the individual responsible is more often charged with higher severity. 

In the event that the discharge was of an accidental nature, there are a few things to consider, such as the circumstances and degree of negligence by the firearm user.  Accidental discharges can incur misdemeanor convictions and may include up to a year in jail or fines. Contact an experienced gun charge lawyer in Chicago today.

Understanding the Consequences of a Reckless Discharge Conviction

Felony Penalties

Discharge of a firearm in a reckless manner is considered a Class 4 felony and carries a prison sentence of between one to four years and a fine of up to $25,000. Discharge of a firearm in an aggravated manner is considered a Class 1 felony and carries a harsher sentence of four to fifteen years of incarceration and a fine of up to $25,000. Lastly, discharge of a firearm in a reckless or aggravated manner within 1,000 feet of school grounds or around a particular demographic of people is classified as a Class X felony, up to fifty years in prison with a mandatory 10-year sentence, and a $25,000 fine.

If an individual is charged and convicted of reckless or aggravated discharge, there are collateral consequences outside of a prison sentence. These may include difficulty obtaining stable and rewarding employment due to the nature of the conviction, inability to pursue higher education, rejection from public assistance such as welfare, and restriction from owning or buying firearms. If the convicted individual is an immigrant, this could lead to possible deportation.

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A peace officer discharging their firearm in the line of duty is exempt from these penalties.

Firearm Restrictions

In order to legally obtain and own a firearm in the state of Illinois, residents must have a Firearm Owners Identification card and have no firearm charges on their criminal record. Illinois forbids the open carrying of a firearm, requires a state permit in order to purchase a firearm, and background checks before an individual is able to legally obtain a firearm.

Ktenas Law, LLC was founded to assist people with legal problems in Orland Park and the surrounding Chicago areas, and have spent years handling complex legal issues in the court of law. Their approach to legal problems is head-on, efficient, and with a plan of attack catered to their clients. If you find yourself in legal trouble, call Ktenas Law directly at 312-756-8652 to speak directly to an experienced gun charge attorney today.