Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm

The Second Amendment gives people on American soil the right to bear arms. However, each state has laws that limit the use of weapons in order to protect public health and safety.

One such limitation is a restriction on when and where it is legal to discharge a firearm. In some cases involving particularly dangerous or unorderly circumstances, the offense is considered aggravated discharge of a firearm. The penalties can be stiff, which means that you should hire a Chicago weapons lawyer to defend your case.

Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 to find out how we can help.

What Are the Elements of Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm

Aggravated discharge occurs when the firearm is discharged in a way that puts the safety of others in jeopardy. Aggravated discharge laws typically apply to pistols, rifles and other guns. However, BB guns, pellet guns, and bows may be included as well. The laws also apply to how the weapon is being used.

Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/24-1.2 defines aggravated discharge as firing a gun in the following ways:

  • In the direction of a person – Regardless of your intent, it is illegal to shoot a gun at another person. When there is evidence that you had the intent to harm the other person, you may face other criminal charges as well.
  • In the direction of a building – In this case, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew, or should have known, that the building was occupied.
  • In the direction of a vehicle – Again, the prosecutor will need to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that you knew, or should have known, that the vehicle was occupied

Penalties for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm

Aggravated discharge of a firearm is a Class 1 felony, which may result in as long as 15 years in prison. You could also be sentenced to paying a fine of up to $25,000.
When there is evidence you fired the gun within 1,000 feet of a school, park, bus or school activity, you could be charged with a Class X felony. You could also face a Class X felony if you are convicted of discharging the gun in the direction of (or a vehicle occupied by) any of the following classes are people while they are in the lawful exercise of their duties:

  • Law enforcement officer
  • Employee of a correctional facility
  • Community volunteer with the police
  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic/EMT
  • Teachers or school employees present on school grounds
  • Emergency management worker

A Class X felony is punishable by six to 30 years in state prison. Fines could exceed $50,000. Probation may last one to three years.

If you get convicted of a gun-related criminal offense, the consequences can be felt long after your release from prison. Non-citizens may face restrictions on immigration and even be deported to their home country. You will have a felony on your criminal record, which can negatively affect their opportunities for employment and education. You may be unable to qualify for certain professional licenses, and you will no longer be allowed to legally own or even use firearms. Finally, you may be disqualified from government funded housing assistance and welfare programs.

How O’Meara Law Can Help

An arrest for aggravated discharge of a firearm does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. The prosecutor must prove every element of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why you should never plead guilty to a crime before consulting a Chicago criminal defense attorney, who may be able to apply several defense strategies to your case.

The offense of aggravated discharge does not apply to certain situations. The use of firearms at a shooting range, during an athletic event, while hunting or during self-defense are allowed under this law. Also, if you are a peace officer exercising your duties or a licensed security contractor on the job, you may be able to assert this as a defense to your aggravated discharge charges.

As a former prosecutor, Michael O’Meara understands the severity of the penalties and the hardships you face. He has worked with judges and police officers for more than 20 years and knows what you can expect when you pass through the criminal justice system. At O’Meara Law, we are dedicated to providing your case with a thorough and effective defense.

If you want to protect your legal rights and your future, call us today at 312-909-0706.