What Is Aggravated Unlawful Use Of A Weapon In Illinois?
Usually, it’s someone that has a gun that’s either in their car or on their person and they don’t have the right credentials for it. For instance, it’s okay if you have a concealed carry card to have a gun on you. If you don’t have a concealed carry card, you have to at least have what’s called the Fire Arms Owners Identification Card, which is called a FOID card. You need to have that to have a gun, period. So, if you have a gun in your house, you’re allowed to have a gun in your house, you’re allowed to have a gun in your car or even in your major place of business but you must have the firearms owners’ identification card. If you do not, just not having the card is a class A misdemeanor. If you have the card, let’s say you have a gun in the car without either card, that’s an aggravated unlawful use of weapons. It’s a class III felony and it carries 2 to 5 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
Is Aggravated Unlawful Use Of A Weapon Always A Felony Charge?
If it’s an aggravated unlawful use of the weapon, yes, it’s always a felony charge. If it’s just unlawful use of weapons, which it used to be the case with the gun but they made it an aggravated now but you could have unlawful use of weapons if you’re possessing like a stiletto, a switch blade, blackjack, any kind of bludgeon, they’re saying you have it with the intent to use it against someone, which is weird because there are a number of things that can be a deadly weapon in the statute depending on if the person intended to use it that way like a baseball bat could be a deadly weapon for an aggravated battery if, in fact, the person is swinging the bat trying to crush somebody with it, and obviously if they’re all just playing baseball, no, it’s not a weapon, it’s a baseball bat.
I’ve had clients who were charged with unlawful use of a weapon or an aggravated battery and the deadly weapon was the car that they drove and somebody was hit with it. The car becomes the weapon which otherwise it wouldn’t be. There are a lot of different weapons charges, everything from brass knuckles to switchblades, stilettos, any kind of little club, any kind of what’s called a Sap, which is a leather strap with a lead ball in the end of it, it’s pretty effective. Cops used to carry those all the time. There are all kinds of weapons, as you can imagine that.
Does The Location Matter When Someone Is Faced With These Charges?
Since we have a concealed carry law, they’ll also place stickers on all these places like a school where concealed carry doesn’t matter, you’re still not allowed to conceal carry and bring a gun into a school. You’ll see that in most public places. Some restaurants have them, some don’t. But obviously, it matters because you’re allowed to possess a weapon in your own home. Now, if you possess the weapon and you don’t have a FOID card, usually that’s all they charge you with. It wouldn’t necessarily be an aggravated unlawful use of weapon just because you had it in your house and you didn’t have a FOID card, usually, they won’t upgrade it to that.
However, there are other weapons like you are not allowed to have a machine gun, that type of automatic gun, it’s a separate class of offense, which is more serious for obvious reasons. You are allowed to have it on your own boat and your own business but again, as long as you’re in those places, it’s just a regular no FOID card. If you’re out of those places and you got a gun and you’re walking on a sidewalk, that’s an aggravated unlawful use of weapons because the way the statute reads is that you possess this weapon without a FOID card at a time when you’re not on your own property, your own place of business or inside your own vehicle.
There are specific laws for if it’s going to be in your vehicle unless you have a concealed carry, then the gun is supposed to be inaccessible like it should be in a separate box from the ammunition or it should be separate where you can’t get to it from the car. Now, of course, there are problems when you have a vehicle like I have Chevy Tahoe where there is no trunk, so where do you put it in the car. Let’s say you want to go to the gun range and you have a valid FOID card, how in the world do you get from the gun range to your house and back without being an unlawful use of weapons? You are supposed to carry it in a broken down manner as much as you can so the bullets are taken out, the clip is taken out, that type of thing.
But if you have the gun, let’s go back to Tahoe again, let’s say it’s in your center console right underneath your arm and the gun’s sitting there and the ammunition’s right there and the clip’s right there, it’s all readily accessible, you just open up the top of your little center console and there it is, well you still got a problem. That’s not correctly carrying it, you’re going to get charged with unlawful use of weapons at that point. If you don’t have a FOID card, you’re going to get charged with an aggravated unlawful use of weapons.
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