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Illinois Personal Injury & Criminal Defense / Blog / Criminal Defense / Conviction is Overturned After State Fails to Establish Weapons Possession Charge

Conviction is Overturned After State Fails to Establish Weapons Possession Charge


An Illinois defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon and sentenced to 11 years in state prison during a bench trial. On appeal, the defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling and granted the defendant’s motion for a new trial. Below, we’ll discuss how the appellate court decided to overturn the verdict.

What happened? 

The defendant was standing in a parking lot with a group of individuals when shots rang out and nearby car windows were shattered. The defendant reached into an automobile and pulled out a weapon, returning fire in the direction of the shots. The defendant was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Officers were called to the scene and evidence was gathered. Police found evidence that 9mm and .40 caliber shell casings were discharged at the scene. Surveillance footage from the gas station showed that the defendant was one of the shooters. The defendant raised a self-defense plea to the first count of aggravated discharge of a firearm. The state agreed that shots had been fired first and that the defendant returned fire. The second issue for the prosecution was that the defendant had physical possession of the firearm before any shots rang out.

The prosecution argued that he was not acting in self-defense because he fired in the wrong direction. The defense claimed that the defendant was unsure where the shots were fired from until more shots were fired. The defense further argued that no evidence was presented concerning the ownership of the gun or the car from which the gun was taken. The prosecution failed to establish that the defendant was in the car prior to the shooting.

Essentially, the state wanted to establish that the defendant was a felon in possession of a weapon during the effort to protect himself from the gunfire. But they failed to establish that he had control over the weapon prior to the shots ringing out. They could not or did not establish that the defendant was in the car prior to recovering the weapon.


The state needed to be able to prove that the defendant owned the gun in order to make the charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon. The state failed to assert this claim and the circuit court decided to convict the defendant anyway. The defendant claimed that he acted in self-defense and would have had the right to defend himself if he was being fired on. The law, therefore, could not support a claim that he was a felon in possession of a weapon because the prosecution never established that he owned the gun, only that he took the gun from a vehicle.

Talk to a Champaign, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

Patel Law, PC represents the interests of Illinois residents who are appealing convictions or those who have been charged with weapons charges in Illinois. Call our Champaign criminal lawyers to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your case immediately.



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