The gun possession and carrying laws of Illinois are both somewhat lenient compared to other states but also uniquely complex. With gray areas in the law and the introduction of Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) requirements, it is easy to see how many people could find themselves arrested and charged with a gun crime without ever knowing they were doing something wrong. If you are facing criminal charges for your possession or sale of a firearm in Illinois, you could be hit with strict penalties upon conviction.
Punishments the court can use for illegal gun possession include:
Up to one year in jail
Up to $2,500 in fines
Mandatory gun safety courses
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Anyone who wants to possess and carry a firearm of any sort in Illinois must first obtain a Firearm Owners Identification. Without a FOID, it is a criminal offense to possess a gun, even in your own home. Handgun licenses from other states are not recognized by Illinois law, either.
In order to get a FOID, you must:
It should be noted that obtaining a FOID is not the same as obtaining a concealed carry permit. Many people in Illinois make this mistake and inadvertently break the law, thinking that they had the right to conceal the weapon on their person or in their vehicle. Additionally, no firearms require registration with the state; if you have been arrested for not registering your firearm, this could indicate a serious violation of your rights.
As drastic as the aforementioned penalties for illegally possessing a firearm may seem, they are generally used for first-time offenders and for people who could have been eligible to possess a FOID but did not do so for whatever reason. If you are convicted subsequent times for the same violation, it will be considered a felony, which includes escalated penalties.
Punishment for felony possession of firearms in Illinois include:
Up to $25,000 in fines
Up to 3 years in prison (with 1-year minimum sentencing)
A first-time offense is also considered a felony if you possess a weapon without a FOID and were not eligible to obtain one through legal channels. In addition to a $25,000 fine, you could be penalized with up to five years in prison with a 2-year minimum sentence. Repeat violations of felony possession with no eligibility for a FOID can sentence you to 30 years in prison with a minimum sentence of six years.
The penalties for felony possession of a firearm vary depending on whether the person is or is not a convicted felon, and whether they are in or out of prison. Keep in mind that, according to 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(e):
“The possession of each firearm or firearm ammunition in violation of this Section constitutes a single and separate violation.”
A person commits a Class 3 felony when he or she is found in possession of a firearm and is not confined in a penal institution.
SENTENCE: 2 – 10 years in prison.
A person commits a Class 2 felony if he or she is not confined in a penal institution and has committed:
A person also commits a Class 2 felony if he or she is on parole or mandatory supervised release and is found in possession of a firearm.
SENTENCE: 3 – 14 years in prison.
A person commits a Class 1 felony if he or she is confined in a penal institution and is found in possession of any weapon prohibited in 720 ILCS 5/25-1, regardless of the intent with which he or she possesses it.
SENTENCE: 4 – 15 years.
A person who is confined in a penal institution commits a Class X felony if he or she is found in possession of any firearm, firearm ammunition, or explosive. SENTENCE: 6 – 30 years.
A person who is not confined in a penal institution commits a Class X felony if he or she is found in possession of a machine gun. SENTENCE: 6 – 30 years.
A person who is confined in a penal institution commits a Class X felony if he or she is found in possession of a machine gun. SENTENCE: 12 – 50 years.
A person who commits any of the abovementioned offenses while wearing body armor (see 720 ILCS 5/33F-1) commits a Class X felony. SENTENCE: 10 – 40 years.
People and businesses that want to openly sell firearms must be licensed to do so. Before a purchaser can be handed their weapon, they and the seller must comply with a mandatory waiting period of 24 hours for rifles and shotguns and 72 hours for handguns and pistols. Firearms dealers may run into legal trouble due to the definition of certain weapons that can be difficult to categorize as a handgun or rifle.
Illinois does allow private persons or parties to sell or transfer firearms with little oversight. The only requirement for most private gun transactions is the notification of the Department of State Police (DSP), and this is only if the purchaser has not yet been licensed. The seller must supply the DSP with their own FOID number and the identification of the purchaser. If the DSP does approve of the sale, it may be conducted within 30 days. There is an online FOID directory for state residence convenience.
Gun crimes are currently one of the most controversial forms of criminal violations in the country. Society and law enforcement may be overzealous when it comes to penalizing people for potential crimes. If your Second Amendment right to possess firearms is being infringed upon by unjust criminal charges, let our Chicago criminal defense lawyers stand up for you before the court. If there is one thing we believe in here at Pissetzky & Berliner, LLC, it is that an attorney should never back down from a fight when their clients’ freedoms are on the line.
Let us be your hard-hitting legal advocates! Contact us today.