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The guns laws in the state of Illinois are some of the strictest in the nation. Any violation of Illinois’ Unlawful Use of Weapons (UUW) law is an automatic felony charge, which means jail time is likely if convicted.
If you would like to possess a weapon in Illinois or pass through Illinois with a weapon or if you have been charged with a UUW violation, here is what you need to know.
Residents of Illinois must have a valid FOID card
In order to possess a firearm in Illinois, residents must have a valid FOID card (Firearms Owners Identification Card).
No other form of registration or identification is considered acceptable and if you do not have a valid FOID card, you can be charged with a UUW violation. If your FOID card has expired, no matter how recently, you can still be charged with felony possession of a weapon.
Illinois will not issue a FOID card if you:
- Have previously been convicted of a felony (including as a juvenile)
- Have previously been convicted of domestic abuse, assault or battery
- Have had a restraining order taken out against you in the past two years
- Have been a patient in a mental facility within the past five years
Since you cannot obtain a FOID card if any of the above apply to you, it also means you are in violation of the UUW if you possess a firearm at any time, including in your home or car or on your person, whether loaded or unloaded.
Other UUW violations include: possession of a weapon by someone under the age of 21, unless involved in exempted activity, like hunting; possession of a weapon by someone selling or using illegal drugs; and possession of a weapon by someone committing a misdemeanor.
If you are in violation of the UUW with “aggravating” factors, you can be charged with an “aggravated” UUW charge that carries harsher penalties than a regular UUW violation. Aggravating factors include possessing a firearm while engaged in certain types of gang activity and possessing a firearm while committing a felony. Violating the UUW while committing a felony carries a minimum 15 year prison sentence.
Residents of other states coming to Illinois with a firearm must be in compliance with the registration laws of their own state and must comply with Illinois’ carry laws, which is that your weapon must be unloaded and in a proper case.
Even with a valid FOID card, you cannot carry a loaded, concealed firearm. Open carry of a loaded weapon is also banned under the UUW, except for hunting but residents still need a valid FOID card, and non-residents need to be in compliance with the laws of their state.
As for unloaded weapons, you still need a valid FOID card and the unloaded firearm must be enclosed in a case, and the case cannot be immediately accessible. Violation of any of these is a felony UUW violation.
It is highly recommended that you hire an experienced defense attorney with a proven track record for dealing with weapons charges. The sooner you consult with a lawyer, the better. While there are many criminal attorneys in Illinois, very few have a track record of defending gun charges or a passion for gun owner’s rights. We know the ones that do and the lawyers we recommend would be the same ones that we as attorneys would hire if arrested. Please contact us if you would like our help. Our service is free and confidential. We can recommend a lawyer in your area who will be the right fit for your case.