Reckless Discharge of a Firearm

Shooting sports and target practice are venerable American traditions whose practitioners enjoy legal protection. But when you use a firearm in a dangerous manner – whether or not you intended harm – you are exposing yourself to severe criminal liability. Reckless discharge of a firearm is a serious felony, with penalties including heavy fines and years spent in prison. If you have been charged with this crime, you need the help of a skilled attorney.

Chicago weapons crime lawyer Michael O’Meara has spent 20 years fighting on both sides of the courtroom. With experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, he knows what needs to be done in order to get your charges reduced or dismissed. He will fight tirelessly for your freedom, from the meticulous preparation of pretrial motions to investigating the factual details of your case. At O’Meara Law, we know that many people are unfairly accused of weapons crimes.

To find out how he can help you, call 312-909-0706 today.

How Does Illinois Law Define Reckless Discharge of a Firearm?

According to the statutes of Illinois, reckless discharge of a firearm occurs if you fire a gun in a manner that puts lives at risk. A prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you fired a weapon with no regard for the safety or well-being of others. A common example of reckless discharge of a firearm is the practice of firing a weapon to celebrate the New Year.

When this crime is committed from the passenger seat of a vehicle, the driver of that vehicle can also be held accountable. If you are a member of a law enforcement agency or military unit who has fired a weapon in the lawful exercise of your duties you are most likely protected from prosecution under this statute.

This crime may be aggravated when a weapon is discharged in the direction of a person or group of people or into a building or vehicle when you have knowledge that there could reasonably be people inside. When this crime takes place within 1,000 feet of a school or where certain categories of people, such as a police officer or teacher, may be present, the offense is punished much more harshly.

Understanding the Consequences of a Reckless Discharge Conviction

Reckless discharge of a firearm is taken very seriously in the state of Illinois. As such, the criminal and collateral consequences for this crime are severe. In addition to the most basic form of this offense, there are aggravating factors that can impact sentencing.

Illinois law punishes reckless discharge of a firearm as follows:

  • Reckless Discharge of a Firearm (Class 4 Felony): A fine of up to $25,000 and between one and three years of incarceration
  • Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm (Class 1 Felony): A fine of up to $25,000 and four to 15 years of incarceration
  • Reckless Discharge of a Firearm within 1,000 Feet of a School or around certain categories of people (Class X Felony): A fine of up to $25,000 and up to 50 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years

If you are convicted of reckless discharge of a firearm, your troubles will not disappear once you are released from prison. The collateral consequences of a conviction may include:

  • Extreme difficulty in finding stable employment with a felony on your rap sheet
  • Inability to gain admission to colleges or universities
  • Ineligibility for scholarships and grants
  • Rejection from welfare or public housing
  • Restriction from owning or possessing firearms
  • For immigrants, possible deportation

How Michael O’Meara Can Protect Your Interests

While the prospect of spending time in prison can be terrifying, there are ways to avoid a guilty verdict. If you enlist the help of a skilled Chicago firearm attorney early in the process, you may be able to get your charges dismissed entirely by challenging the prosecutor’s evidence against you. When the police violate your rights during your arrest, questioning, or initial detainment, evidence obtained as a result of the violation should be excluded from the case. Another effective legal defense is proving that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you were the person who committed the crime. While eyewitness testimony is one the most commonly used forms of legal evidence, it is also one of the most unreliable.

If you were falsely or unfairly accused of reckless discharge of a firearm, O’Meara Law can help. We have more than two decades of experience in helping people overcome their criminal charges through swift and aggressive advocacy.

To learn more about what defense strategies may be applicable to your specific case, call us at 312-909-0706 now.