What has the new Illinois gun law really changed for people facing gun charges? Not much. A few weeks ago, the Illinois Supreme Court found a specific section of the Illinois Unlawful use of a Weapon statute unconstitutional. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6
In People v. Aguilar, Docket # 112116, the Illinois Supreme Court found a section of the Aggravated Unlawful use of a Weapon statute unconstitutional because it violated the Second Amendment, section 24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A). Section (a)(1) generally prohibited carrying a gun on your person or in your vehicle unless you are on your own land, in your own home or business, or you had permission from the owner. While Section (a)(3)(A) made it a crime if the gun is uncases, loaded, and immediately accessible.
Now that section (3)(A) has been found unconstitutional, it will be interesting to see how the Courts address sentencing since Aggravated UUW is non-probationable if the person is over 18 years old and both section (A) and (C) factors are present.
Most people charged with UUW are still going to have to defend their cases the old-fashioned way, with a motion to suppress the seizure and or search that led to the recovery of the gun. Most judges know, and the Chicago Police seem to admit that one of their top priorities is getting guns off the streets. They are able to do this following a very broad interpretation of the Fourth Amendment and not being concerned whether or not the stop or search was justified. The main goal is to get guns off the streets. With all the murders in Chicago this sounds reasonable to many even if it is a 4th Amendment violation. Judges have often commented that the police are just doing what police do while granting the motion to suppress. The State probable feels that it is a win for them even if the case is dismissed since a gun was taken off the streets and the defendant might have spent some time in jail.
Just today, there was an article on the front page of the Chicago Tribune “Police tactic has some ill at ease” addressing the concern over the Chicago Police Department’s street stops, also known as “field interviews.” So far this year the Chicago Police stopped over 600,000 people and did not make an arrest. The Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure section 107-14 states that a police officer may stop a person “when the officer reasonably infers from the circumstances that the person is committing, is about to commit or has committed an offense” The United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution also protect citizens from unreasonable searched and seizures. To justify a stop, Courts have held, that the officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts, which combined with the rational inferences from these facts, reasonably warrants the intrusion.