Could You Face Weapons Charges for Defending Yourself?
The worst case scenario is happening to you right this moment and you have a weapon to defend yourself, yet you have not taken the proper avenues to make your weapon purchase legal. What do you do?
Do you pretend you do not have the weapon in order to avoid legal trouble, or do you use it to defend yourself, regardless of the legal ramifications? If you choose to defend yourself, will you face weapons charges?
These are not the best questions to ask yourself in ‘the heat of the moment,’ yet they are certainly questions to consider before you even decide to carry.
Illinois became the last state in the United States to formally issue a concealed carry program on July 9, 2013. Comparisons between Illinois and other state regulations include:
“Castle Law Doctrine" — Although a law with this name does not exist in Illinois, there is one that is very similar. According to Illinois law, you are able to defend yourself by any means necessary, even with the use of deadly force, in your own home should you feel the intruder came in without your approval and you felt in fear of your life or the life of someone you love.
“Stand Your Ground” — In other states, this means that the law does not require that you back down from defending yourself. If someone is threatening you, you are absolutely able to stand your ground with any force you deem necessary. In Illinois, it is known as the “Self Defense” statute. This states that you are able to use “justifiable force” to defend yourself. There are two levels considered to be justifiable: regular force which simply incapacitates the aggressor and deadly which is meant to cause bodily harm or death. As would be expected, certain conditions must be true in order to consider such actions to be “justifiable.”
When Can You Defend Yourself?
Several situations exist that would and would not condone the use of justifiable force. It is up to you to decide the difference at the time of the incident and up to the judge and jury to believe you after the fact. Therefore, the proper use of force is pertinent to your case and should be understood before such an emergency occurs. Guidelines of what are acceptable instances of when to use force include the following:
- Defending yourself or someone else against unlawful force;
- Preventing bodily harm or death to yourself or another person;
- Preventing a forcible felony from being committed such as sexual assault, battery, murder, robbery, arson, etc.;
- Preventing a break-in or attack on a dwelling; or
- Protecting property in your or a family member's possession or household.
Just as there are acceptable instances for the use of force, there are also multiple situations where force would not be appropriate. Examples of circumstances are:
- If you are the aggressor;
- If you are over-reacting;
- If you are the person committing the crime; or
- If you are the one provoking force.
In all cases in which force was used, the following must be true in order to have a potential defense case. These are:
- Impending danger or threat to you, someone else, or your property;
- The threat must be unlawful;
- You must believe that danger exists in which force is required; and
- Your force must be equal to the threat.
Therefore, if someone is breaking into your home and you turn on the light which results in them leaving, it is not appropriate to use deadly force. However, if you turn on the light, yell through the door that they are not welcome, and still they are aggressively attempting to enter and the door swings open or the window breaks, you potentially may have a defense case. Yet, these cases depend heavily on the facts at the time of the situation and every situation is different. Determining if you have a viable case is best done by contacting an attorney.
Firearm Possession Laws
Although you may be in your dwelling and are defending yourself, or you are in your car and are preventing a carjacking from occurring, if you are carrying your weapon without a permit or own a weapon without the identification card, there is still a potential for additional charges being filed against you. Therefore, if firearms are your choice of defense, it is best to be sure that you have everything completed on your end BEFORE an emergency occurs. There are two documents that are necessary for your weapon to be legal:
- Firearms Owner’s Identification (FOID) — To legally possess firearms or ammunition, Illinois residents must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card, which is issued by the Illinois State Police to any qualified applicant; and
- Concealed Carry License (CCL) — Firearm Concealed Carry Act became state law (430 ILCS 66). This law requires an Illinois Concealed Carry License to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois.
In the event that you need to use your weapon, and for whatever reason you have not had the opportunity to make your ownership legal, an attorney is highly recommended. An aggressive lawyer who fights for your rights will make the difference between penalties or understanding from the judge and jury. You will want someone with years of experience and prides themselves by putting the needs of their clients first. If you are looking for a DuPage County, IL criminal defense attorney, contact Davi Law Group, LLC today.