Armed violence is a felony offense under the Illinois Criminal Code. This particular offense has a multifaceted series of elements. In addition to the commission of a separate felony, armed violence also requires the possession or use of a dangerous weapon, including various firearms.
Category I/II/III Weapons in Illinois
The Illinois breakdown of weapon categories appears at 720 ILCS 5/33A-1. Under this section, dangerous weapons are divided into the following categories:
- Category I — Includes semiautomatic firearms and machine guns as well as handguns, sawed-off shotguns or rifles, and other firearms that can be carried in a concealed manner;
- Category II — Includes other rifles, shotguns, and firearms not classified under Category I as well as spring or stun guns, tasers, certain knives, daggers, dirks, axes, hatchets, and other deadly weapons of a similar character; and
- Category III — Includes bludgeons, black-jacks, slingshots, sand bags and clubs, metal knuckles, billy clubs, and other deadly weapons of a similar character.
Definition of Armed Violence in Illinois
The Illinois definition for armed violence appears at 720 ILCS 5/33A-2. Under this section, armed violence applies when a person commits a felony crime and also:
- Possesses a dangerous weapon;
- Discharges a Category I/II firearm; or
- Causes great bodily harm, disability, disfigurement, or death by discharging a Category I/II firearm.
That being said, there are several exceptions to the felonies that qualify under Section 33A-2. More specifically, this section does not apply to the following felonies:
- First degree murder;
- Attempted first degree murder;
- Intentional homicide of an unborn child;
- Second degree murder;
- Involuntary manslaughter;
- Reckless homicide;
- Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child;
- Aggravated battery of a child;
- Home invasion; or
- Similar offenses that include possession or use of a dangerous weapon as part of the offense or sentencing factors.
Penalties for Armed Violence in Illinois
The Illinois penalties for armed violence appear at 720 ILCS 5/33A-3. Under this section, there are several penalty schemes for armed violence. If the offense involved possession of a:
- Category I Weapon — Is a Class X felony with a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison;
- Category II Weapon — Is a Class X felony with a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison;
- Category III Weapon (first offense) — Is a Class 2 felony with a sentencing range of three to seven years in prison; or
- Category III Weapon (subsequent offense) — Is a Class 1 felony with a sentencing range of four to 15 years in prison.
That being said, Section 33A-3 also establishes more severe penalties for armed violence offenses that included discharge of a firearm. These enhanced penalties can apply whether or not firearm discharge resulted in great bodily harm, disability, disfigurement, or death.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.