Criminal Law

Felons With Firearms

Did you know that being convicted of a felony means you can no longer possess a firearm? This law was put in place to prevent potentially dangerous ex-criminals from easily hurting someone again. While, in theory, prison is meant to be a transformative experience in which criminals reform from the behavior that put them in prison in the first place, going back to crime after being released is fairly common.

Recidivism, which is the tendency of former prisoners to commit crimes again, is extremely high, especially if rehabilitation, rather than mere punishment, is the goal of incarceration. According to a recent study taken from data from 30 states, 5 in 6 former prisoners will be arrested again within nine years of being released.

When talking about felons possessing firearms, it’s important to remember the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a year or less in county jail and a fine. The only classification of crime less serious than a misdemeanor is an infraction (parking violations, etc.). Misdemeanors include:

  • Petty theft
  • Threatening assault
  • Possessing tobacco or alcohol as a minor
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

A felony is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than a year and is usually carried out in a high-security prison rather than a jail. Crimes that are considered felonies include:

  • Murder
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Arson

People who commit felonies are, of course, known as felons, and there can be serious consequences for felons who have possession of firearms.

The main complication that comes with this law is that, according to this attorney, in the state of Texas, a firearm is defined as anything that can be used as a weapon. Naturally, you’re probably thinking that this is pretty vague. It is. Other rules that go along with this law complicate it even further. A convicted felon is also not allowed to be in the same car as someone who has a gun for hunting purposes, and they’re definitely not allowed to hunt themselves. Sometimes, felons will be able to own a firearm again by waiting five years and keeping the weapon inside their home. The only way for a felon to possess a firearm outside of the home is if they have a pardon from the governor, which is obviously given very infrequently. 

Because there are so many complications, there are naturally situations with a lot of gray areas. That’s why it’s so important for people who have been charged with this crime to get in contact with a lawyer immediately. If they don’t, they could end up back in prison for up to ten years, making recidivism rates even higher and further prolonging their opportunity at successful rehabilitation.

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Charges of Drug Possession

Being charged with a crime can be daunting, particularly when those charges involve drug crimes. Drug possession is one type of drug-related crime that people might face, and it can be generally understood to refer to having any amount of illegal narcotic or substance in one’s possession. This charge is different from other drug crimes like intent-to-distribute or drug manufacturing, but it can still come with hefty legal penalties if one is convicted. A conviction for drug possession might involve penalties like fines up to $25,000, or jail time up to 3 years. The penalties, of course, vary, depending on one’s circumstances, but not everyone is facing a certain conviction if they are charged with drug possession.

Penalty Distinctions

It’s very important to remember that penalties for certain drug possession charges will depend on several key things. These distinctions between crimes are critical for mounting a proper defense against the charges against a person. Penalties may vary based on:

  • The amount of the drug in possession
  • The previous offenses of a defendant (if any)
  • The type of drug in possession
  • Any potential damage that was done because of the possession

Based on the circumstances surrounding a person’s charges, he or she could be facing strikingly different penalties if convicted. But conviction is not a certainty when a person is charged with drug possession, because the burden of proof is on the court. It must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that a defendant is guilty of drug possession. Even then, sometimes penalties might be lessened significantly through the right legal defense.

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What to Do When Charged with Drunk Driving in Illinois

Driving under the influence (DUI) or drunk driving is a serious offense in the US. While the number of offenses will determine if it is a misdemeanor or a felony, even one DUI conviction leaves a bad mark on your record. It can prevent you from getting certain jobs, and may mean the suspension of your driving privileges as well as fines. If you are charged with drunk driving in Illinois, you can take certain steps to try and beat the charge.

Take note if you have been Mirandized

In Illinois, the law requires that the arresting officer read you your Miranda rights when charging you for drunk driving. Failure to do so will invalidate any tests that may have been performed to confirm your blood alcohol level, such as a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. It is tantamount to a free pass, so make sure that you…

Tell your lawyer

As soon as you can, ask for a lawyer. It is one of your rights when you get charged with drunk driving (which hopefully the officer forgot to inform you), so get one who is experienced in handling DUI cases in your state. Another right that you have which you should take advantage of is the right to…

Remain silent

Anything you say can and will be used against you in court, so the best policy is to say nothing until your lawyer is there to advise you. It may be tempting to be a smart mouth or to make a show of bravado, especially if the arresting officer makes snide remarks, but resist it. It could save your goat. When your lawyer arrives…

Discuss possible lines of defense

Field sobriety tests are far from infallible and even breathalyzer tests can be successfully contested if you can prove that there is a physical, medical or other legitimate explanation that explains erratic driving behavior or why you tested positive for a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. Be sure to tell your lawyer anything that may be helpful.

These are the first things that you should do when you are charged with drunk driving in Illinois. The important thing is not to panic; stay calm and ask for a lawyer.

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January 2021
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