Our criminal defense attorneys have represented many individuals charged with gun-related weapons crimes in Illinois.
If you've been charged with an Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) charge, this article provides you with some possible ways to win your case. However, it's best to consult with us directly to understand if these criminal defense tactics can be used in your case.
There have been rumors that Unlawful Use of a Weapons (UUW) laws in Illinois have been declared unconstitutional, but this is not correct, as we have discussed elsewhere on this site.
Under current Illinois law, a person cannot lawfully carry a firearm in public unless they have an Illinois Firearm Owner's Identification card, commonly referred to as an FOID card, and a Concealed Carry License, or CCL.
Under certain circumstances, a person can transport a gun in their car, but it must be cased or broken down and inaccessible.
When a person has a felony conviction, it is an even more serious crime with harsher punishments. However, there can be a defense to Unlawful Use of a Firearm charges in certain circumstances.
In the case of People v. Crowder, 2018 IL App (1st) 161226 the defendant successfully raised the defense of self-defense to justify a brief possession of a firearm, despite his status as a convicted felon. The evidence established that the defendant and his father were attacked by three men, who made threats to shoot them. The defendant's father had a FOID card and a CCL and possessed a gun. However, he was knocked senseless, so the defendant grabbed his gun and fired one shot in the air to scare off the attackers.
Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the defense must present evidence of self-defense before the prosecution is required to rebut it. Specifically, the defense must show the following;
(1) unlawful force threatened against a person,
(2) the person threatened was not the aggressor,
(3) the danger of harm was imminent,
(4) the use of force (by the threatened person) was necessary,
(5) the person threatened actually and subjectively believed a danger existed that required the use of force applied, and
(6) the beliefs of the person threatened were objectively reasonable.
The prosecution in the Crowder case argued that self-defense is unavailable to weapons offenses. The appellate court disagreed and reversed the defendant's conviction. While the appellate court released the upon under Rule 23, so it cannot be cited as a precedent that is binding on trial courts, it is still instructive.
Another possible defense was raised in a UUW prosecution is Necessity, which is also an affirmative defense.
This defense was successfully raised in People v. Gullens, 2017 IL App (3d) 160668. In that case the defendant and his brother went to a gun store. The defendant was a convicted felon and never possessed a gun in the store. Later, he learned that his brother had stolen a gun from the store. The defendant took the gun and returned it to the store, possessing it for about 10 minutes in the process. The appellate court held that the defendant was "without blame in occasioning or developing the situation that resulted in the theft," returning the gun himself was the sole option available, and returning it "undoubtedly promoted a higher value than refraining from being a felon in possession of a weapon for the 10 minutes it took to return the gun to the store."
If you've been charged with a firearms crime in Illinois, please contact our experienced Illinois gun crimes attorneys to discuss your options.