Under 720 ILCS 5 § 24-3.1, illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition occurs when a person:
- under 18 years of age has a firearm (of any kind) concealed on their person,
- under 21 years old has a firearm or ammunition in their possession after being convicted of a misdemeanor offense (excluding traffic offense or adjudged delinquent),
- who is a narcotic addict has a firearm or ammunition in their possession,
- who has been a patient in a mental institution (within the last 5 years) has a firearm or forearm in their possession,
- with an intellectual disability has a firearm or ammunition in their possession, or
- possesses an explosive bullet.
For the purposes of this statute, a mental institution patient means that the person involuntarily or voluntarily was admitted to an institution for mental health treatment; this excludes those who voluntarily sought treatment for alcohol abuse issues and do not have a secondary substance abuse disorder or mental illness.
A mental institution includes any facility that treats or cares for those with mental illness, including but not limited to:
- Evaluation facility
- Mental health center
Legal Definition of Firearm & Ammunition
According to 430 ILCS 65 § 1.1, a firearm is considered any device that is designed to expel projectiles via an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas, excluding:
- Any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paintball gun, or B-B gun that expels a single projectile no larger than .18 inch in diameter or that has a maximum muzzle velocity of fewer than 700 feet per second
- Any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paintball gun, or B-B gun that expels breakable paintballs with washing marking colors
- Any devices that are used solely for signaling or safety (and that is required or recommended by the U.S. Coast Guard or Interstate Commerce Commission)
- Any devices that are used solely for firing stud cartridges, explosive rivets, or similar industrial ammunition
- An antique firearm (excluding machine guns) that the Department of State Police believes (based on its manufacture date, value, design, etc.) to be a collector’s item and unlikely to be used as a weapon
Firearm ammunition includes any self-contained cartridge or shotgun shell that is designed to or can be made to use in a firearm, excluding any ammunition:
- Exclusively designed for use with a device solely used for signaling or safety that is required or recommended by the U.S. Coast Guard or Interstate Commerce Commission,
- Designed exclusively for use with a stud, rivet driver, or similar industrial ammunition
Penalties for an Unlawful Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition Charge
The unlawful possession of a firearm (excluding a handgun) or firearm ammunition is a Class A misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. However, the unlawful possession of a handgun is a Class 4 felony. This offense is punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. It is also important to note that you can face multiple unlawful possession charges as each firearm or ammunition violation is considered a single and separate offense.
The Difference Between Jail & Prison
While people often use the terms jail and prison interchangeably, they are two separate entities. Jails are operated by the county or local municipality, and these correctional facilities usually only house those serving shorter sentences. Prisons, on the other hand, are correctional facilities that are operated by the state or federal government, and they incarcerate felons serving longer sentences.
How to Beat an Unlawful Firearm or Ammunition Possession Charge
The best way to beat an illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition charge is to retain a reliable attorney. They can work with you to develop a personalized defense strategy and advise you of your best options (concerning mitigating the charges, etc.). Possible defenses against these charges can include but are not limited to:
- The police illegally searched and seized the firearm or ammunition.
- You did not voluntarily consent to a search.
- The prosecution does not have substantial evidence to prove that you knowingly possessed the weapon or ammunition.
Contact the Law Office of Steven Fine
With over 20 years of experience, our criminal defense attorney is equipped to help clients facing unlawful possession charges. Known for providing clients with an individualized defense strategy and aggressive representation, Attorney Fine can help you protect your rights, freedoms, and reputation.
Learn more about how our firm can help you. Contact us online or at (312) 436-0638 to schedule a free consultation.