May 17

The State of Illinois has many laws against the use of dangerous weapons, such as knives, clubs, and firearms. Due to the inherent risks associated with the use of firearms, specifically, there are additional restrictions and penalties under Illinois law, including aggravated discharge of a firearm.

How Does Illinois Define Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm?

The Illinois definition of aggravated discharge of a firearm appears in 720 ILCS 5/24-1.2. This crime only applies in specific situations and under limited circumstances — when a person intentionally discharges a firearm:

  • At or into a building with knowledge that there are people inside;
  • In the direction of a person or a vehicle with a person inside;
  • In the direction of a law enforcement officer in the performance of official duties;
  • In the direction of a vehicle carrying a law enforcement officer in the performance of official duties;
  • In the direction of emergency services personnel in the performance of their official duties;
  • In the direction of a vehicle carrying emergency services personnel in the performance of their official duties;
  • In the direction of a teacher or educator in an academic environment;
  • In the direction of an emergency management worker in the performance of official duties; or
  • In the direction of a vehicle carrying an emergency management worker in the performance of official duties.

Aggravated discharge of a firearm only applies in the limited situations outlined above. While it might qualify as a weapon crime to discharge a firearm otherwise, it does not rise to the aggravated version of this offense.

How Does Illinois Punish Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm?

In less severe cases — when a person shoots at a building or a vehicle with a person inside — aggravated discharge of a firearm is a Class 1 felony in Illinois. Upon conviction, an offender usually faces a prison sentence between four and 15 years, up to four years of probation thereafter, and a maximum of $25,000 in fines. Though these penalties can increase if the offense occurs at or around a school.

In all of the other cases described in the previous section, aggravated discharge of a firearm is a Class X felony in Illinois. Upon conviction, an offender regularly faces a prison sentence between six and 30 years as well as a maximum of $25,000 in fines. Illinois does not allow probation or conditional release for Class felonies.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.

(image courtesy of Matt Popovich)