The term “armed violence” stirs many mental images from the news and movies. Armed violence may make you imagine someone robbing a store with a gun.
The State of Illinois, however, has a broader perspective on what constitutes armed violence, which could mean an exaggerated charge for a non-violent crime.
This is what you should know about armed violence charges and when you could be at risk.
Illinois standard for armed violence
The idea behind the legislation was to decrease the use of arms used during other felony offenses. Illinois’s armed violence statute makes it possible to add the charge to the commission of certain felonies if the defendant was carrying a weapon.
The State of Illinois categorizes weapons in the following three types:
- Category I. These weapons include guns that can be concealed, semiautomatic guns and machine guns.
- Category II. Weapons in this category include rifles, spring guns and tasers.
- Category III. These weapons include blunt weapons such as bludgeons and metal knuckles.
There is a small list of felonies that do not fit within this statute. Still, the rule can apply to many felonies from the Illinois criminal code.
Consequences for conviction
Armed violence charges are serious. Depending on the underlying felony, the weapon involved, and whether the defendant discharged the weapon, there could be a sentence of 10 years or more, depending on the other charges and circumstances.
While there are limitations to an armed violence charge, they tend to be for felonies that already involve weapons, such as:
- First-degree murder
- Reckless homicide
- Home invasion
Illinois laws are strict when it comes to who can possess a weapon and when are strict. Having a weapon during a felony can lead to severe consequences, even when the underlying felony is not violent.