Apr 22

A 16-year-old boy from Bloomington, Illinois pleaded guilty to felony charges for unlawful possession of a firearm, according to an article by The Pantagraph.

Local authorities arrested this Illinois minor in November of 2021 at Bloomington High School. Apparently, school officials suspected that the minor was in possession of cannabis. But when they searched his backpack, they discovered a firearm instead. When law enforcement arrived at the scene, they confiscated a loaded handgun with 10 rounds. 

Approximately three weeks after his arrest, the authorities charged this Illinois minor as an adult for the felony of unlawful possession of a firearm and several other offenses. 

While this Illinois minor awaits formal sentencing on June 7, it seems like a proper occasion to review the Illinois laws against and penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm. 

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Illinois

720 ILCS 5/24-3.1 defines what qualifies as unlawful possession of a firearm in Illinois. Under this section, it illegal for a person to possess firearms or firearm ammunition if they are:

  • Under 18 years old and have a firearm that can be concealed on their person;
  • Under 21 years old and have a misdemeanor conviction (other than traffic offenses) or were adjudged delinquent;
  • A narcotic addict;
  • A patient in a mental institution within the past five years; or
  • A person with an intellectual disability.

In addition, Section 24-3.1 prohibits any person from the possession of “explosive bullets.” These bullets carry an explosive charge which detonates upon contact with the flesh of a human or animal. 

That being said, there is an exception to Section 24-3.1. This section does not prohibit underage minors from participating in lawful, recreational activities with firearms, including but not limited to:

  • Target shooting at established public or private ranges; or
  • Lawful fishing, hunting, or trapping under the Wildlife Code or the Fish and Aquatic Life Code.

Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Illinois

Section 24-3.1 also furnishes the Illinois penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm. When this offense involves a firearm other than a handgun, it is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted for this misdemeanor, the penalties can include up to $2,500 in criminal fines and up to one year in jail.

If unlawful possession of a firearm involves a handgun, however, it is usually charged as a Class 4 felony. If convicted for this felony, the penalties can include up to $25,000 in criminal fines and one to three years in prison.

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.