Dec 28

A new gun control measure will take effect in Illinois on January 1st, reported the Rockford Register Star. The Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act (the Act) enables the authorities to remove firearms from “red flag” owners who represent a danger to themselves or other people.

The Act will make Illinois the latest U.S. state to restrict gun ownership in the wake of mass shootings and similar acts of violence. In several such cases — including the Mercy Hospital shooting in Chicago — the shooter made past threats of violence. But law enforcement officers did not have the legal authority to confiscate the shooter’s firearms, even as a precautionary measure.

Once the Act takes effect in 2019, there will be a detailed framework in place to evaluate threats and, hopefully, prevent future acts of mass violence. Under tightly controlled circumstances, the Illinois circuit courts will be able to grant a firearms restraining order, prohibiting certain dangerous people from using firearms.

Who is Eligible to Request a Firearms Restraining Order?

Under the Act, only certain people are allowed to request a firearms restraining order from the Illinois circuit courts. The list of eligible individuals includes:

  • Family Members: Any person who is related to the gun owner by blood or marriage, or lives with the gun owner, may request a firearms restraining order; or
  • Law Enforcement Officers: A law enforcement officer may request a firearms restraining order against the gun owner.

What is the Process for Requesting a Firearms Restraining Order?

In order to request a firearms restraining order, the family member or law enforcement officer must file an affidavit or verified pleading with an Illinois circuit court. Stated otherwise, that person must go on the record and state why the gun owner poses an immediate and present danger of violence.

What Happens if a Court Grants a Firearms Restraining Order?

If an Illinois circuit order grants a firearms restraining order under the Act, there are several immediate effects. In specific terms, a firearms restraining order requires the gun owner in question to:

  • Turn over firearm(s), owner’s identification card and concealed carry license to local law enforcement; and
  • Refrain from possessing, owning, purchasing or receiving any firearms for the duration of the order.

What are the Penalties for Violating a Firearms Restraining Order?

If a person violates a firearms restraining order, then they will be subject to criminal charges under the Act. In most cases, the severity of these charges will vary based on the number of offenses. For example:

  • First Offense: Results in Class B misdemeanor charges;
  • Second Offense: Results in Class A misdemeanor charges and potentially a six-month suspension of gun ownership privileges; and
  • Third or Subsequent Offense: Results in Class A misdemeanor charges and permanent revocation of gun ownership privileges.

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 Quentin Kemmel)