What is Unlawful Carry of a Firearm in Illinois?

Updated on 08/11/2023 / Under

Illinois treats weapons crimes very seriously. Unlawful possession of firearms, for instance, is a felony offense punishable by hefty fines and imprisonment. What most people don't understand is that to legally own a firearm in Illinois, you must have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card, and to carry concealed firearms, you must have a permit. The law enforcement officers vigorously prosecute any violation of these laws.

If you're facing a criminal charge after the illegal possession of a firearm, you may be worried about the criminal penalties that could follow a criminal conviction. If you're the sole provider for your family, you might not know how they'll survive if you're sent away to prison.

Our Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Ktenas Law have helped thousands of people facing unlawful carry of a firearm charge in Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, and throughout Illinois beat their charges and we can help you too. At Ktenas Law, our goal is to ease the stress of confronting the criminal justice system while increasing your chances of getting a favorable outcome. To find out how we can protect your constitutional rights, call our criminal defense law firm today at 312-756-8652 for a free and confidential consultation. 

Understanding the Crime of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Illinois

Unlawful possession of firearms may be committed by certain people in certain scenarios. You might be found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm if:

  • You're under 18 and possess any firearm that may be concealed.
  • You're under 21, have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense other than a traffic offense, or found to be a delinquent, and have any ammunition or firearms in your possession.
  • You're a narcotic addict and have any ammunition or firearms in your possession.
  • You have been a patient of a mental hospital within the last five years and have any ammunition or firearms in your possession.
  • You possess an explosive bullet, which is the projectile part of firearm ammunition that has an explosive charge that will explode upon contact with animal or human flesh.
Chicago gun lawyer Alex Ktenas

The law doesn't bar a person under 18 from taking part in lawful recreational activities with a firearm, such as hunting within the Illinois Wildlife Code or shooting at targets at ranges.

Learn More: Understanding Your Rights After an Arrest

What is Considered an Unlawful Weapon in Illinois?

There are several weapons, besides a firearm, that might be considered unlawful weapons under Illinois law. If you are found in illegal possession of any of them, you could face an unlawful weapons charge. Under 720 ILCS 5/24-1 These weapons include:

  • Black-jacks and bludgeons--thick sticks used for beating.
  • Slung-shots: These are weights that are tied to ropes and they're used just like a flail. They differ from slingshots.
  • Sand-bags and sand clubs: These are containers filled with sand and used for hitting.
  • Metal knuckles or other knuckle weapons no matter their composition.
  • Throwing stars.
  • Handgun.
  • Spring gun.
  • Switchblade knife.
  • Ballistic knife, which are devices that propel knifelike blades as a projectile by means of an elastic material, coil spring, or compressed gas.
  • Dirks, daggers, billies (batons), dangerous knife, razors, stilettos.
  • Broken bottle or other pieces of glass
  • Tasers or stun guns or any other deadly weapon or dangerous weapon or instrument.
  • Bomb, tear gas gun projector, or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance

Apart from these, some types of guns are illegal in Illinois. This means that you can't legally own them in Illinois. They include:

  • Rifle barrels, which are shorter than 16 inches
  • Machine guns. These include any weapon that can fire more than one shot without your needing to reload it.

However, it's essential to note that the laws on stun guns have changed slightly. A recent ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court deemed the ban on the Taser/Stun Gun unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the way the law was written, a person needs to have a valid license in their home to possess a Taser or stun gun. 

Related: Illegal Discharge of a Firearm in Illinois

Penalties for Possession of Illegal Firearm

Illinois law provides the definitions, criminal offenses, and penalties pertaining to unlawful carry of firearm charges in the state. While many violations of this law are categorized as misdemeanor offenses, criminal offenders could face felony charges depending on the circumstances. 

What is Unlawful Carry of a Firearm in Illinois?

If you're an Illinois resident and own a gun but don't possess a valid FOID card, you're considered to be breaking the law. Often, if a person has a valid FOID card but was carrying unloaded firearms in an improper way, that individual could be charged with a misdemeanor unlawful use of a firearm. Unlawful use of a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor offense, which carries a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a hefty fine of up to $2,500. Conditional Discharge or court supervision is possible.  

In Illinois, aggravated unlawful use of a firearm carries harsher penalties. If a person carries a loaded gun on their person or in their motor vehicle without a valid FOID card and a Concealed Carry Permit, they can be arrested for aggravated firearms offenses. This means even people visiting from out of state must comply with Illinois’ gun laws, or they could face such criminal charges as well.

Also, Illinois residents can be arrested and charged with unlawful carry of a firearm if their FOID card is expired. Not knowing a FOID card had expired isn't a plausible defense to unlawful possession of a firearm or Aggravated unlawful use of firearm charge.

An Aggravated unlawful use of a firearm in Illinois is a Class 4 felony offense with the possibility of 1-3 years in prison. Most prosecutors are unwilling to negotiate for anything less than jail time concerning a UUW or an Aggravated UUW charge. 

In Illinois, the criminal penalties for weapons violations are severe. Unlawful use of a weapon can involve gun crimes, which can be charged as misdemeanor offenses or felony offenses depending on the details of the case. If you or a loved one is facing such criminal charges, you need experienced legal counsel to represent you. The experienced criminal defense law firm of Ktenas Law can help reduce your criminal charges or get them dropped altogether so you can move on with your life. Our skilled weapons charge defense attorney will fight fiercely for your legal rights. Call our law offices today at 312-756-8652 to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.