Having a weapon in your possession without the proper authorization and paperwork is treated as a serious criminal offense in Illinois. Naturally, discharging a firearm into a crowd, building or vehicle can also get you into serious trouble.
But that’s not the only way you can get into trouble with a firearm. The reckless discharge of a firearm — even if you never intended to harm anybody — is also a crime.
What is the reckless discharge of a weapon?
Essentially, any time you fire a gun in a manner that endangers someone’s safety, you can be charged with this offense. Your actual intentions do not matter.
For example, imagine that you get carried away with your exuberance following a big win by the Chicago Bears and fire your gun in the air in celebration. Or, maybe you’re at a party on New Year’s Eve and you fire your weapon in the air to mark the occasion. Because your bullet could have accidentally hit someone (even if it didn’t), that can be considered a “reckless discharge.”
You can even be charged with this offense without firing a weapon. How? Well, a subsection of Illinois law holds the driver of a vehicle from which a weapon was recklessly discharged equally accountable if they knew their passenger intended to fire a gun.
What’s the penalty for a reckless discharge conviction?
A reckless discharge conviction is a Class 4 felony, so you can spend up to three years in prison. You can also face up to $25,000 in fines.
Carrying a felony on your record is no easy matter, either, since it can affect how you are treated after any subsequent offenses and limit your ability to find employment, go to school or find housing. When you’re facing gun charges, you can’t afford to take chances. Get an attorney who will take your interests to heart.