How Firearm Enhancements Can Add Years To Sentencing

Under Illinois statute, certain crimes have enhancements if they involve firearms.  

Enhancements mean that in addition to the punishment for the underlying crime, a certain number of years are added to the sentence because of the presence or use of a firearm.

Which Crimes Have Enhancement Clauses?

Under current statutes, the firearm enhancement punishments apply to the following crimes:

  • Armed robbery
  •  Aggravated vehicular hijacking
  • Attempted murder
  • First degree murder
  • Intentional homicide to an unborn child
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Aggravated battery of a child
  • Home invasion
  • Aggravated criminal sexual assault, or
  • Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child

How Do The Enhancement Charges Apply?

If an enhancement charge is part of a case, the prosecutor will try to convict the defendant of the original crime (for example, she will try to convict of home invasion) and prove that the defendant either had a firearm or discharged a firearm during the commission of the crime.  

If the firearm element is proved, then a certain number of years will be added to the minimum sentence for the underlying crime.

How Many Years Are Included With The Enhancements?

The time added to a sentence for a firearm enhancement depends on the manner in which the firearm was used.  

If the defendant only had a firearm on their person, but did not discharge it during the commission of the crime, then 15 years are added to the sentence.

If a firearm was discharged, but didn’t harm anyone by doing so, then 20 years are added to the sentence. If you discharged the firearm and it caused bodily harm to someone, then 25 years up to life in prison is added to the sentence.  

The enhancements also apply to accessory crimes (e.g. being charged as an accomplice to first degree murder).  If the defendant is charged as an accomplice to a crime listed above in which a firearm was discharged, then an additional 15 years is added to the sentence, unless they were the one who discharged the firearm (which would result in a separate charge).

For example, attempted first degree murder is a Class X Felony, and it is punishable by a minimum of 20 years to 80 years in prison.  If a defendant attempted to murder another person by pointing or shooting a firearm, but missed the person and did not harm them, then the defendant could be charged with attempted first degree murder.  

If he is found guilty, then he may be sentenced for 20-80 years for the attempt crime, plus an additional 20 years for discharging a firearm.

Can The Number Of Years For An Enhancement Charge Be Reduced?

Unfortunately, current Illinois laws state these enhancements are mandatory, meaning they cannot be reduced or altered.  

If you are found guilty of one of the crimes listed above and the firearm enhancement applies, then the additional time must be added to the sentence.  

That is why it is imperative that you hire experienced counsel to fight for your rights and help you avoid excessive punishment.

What Is The Crime I Am Charged With Already Includes Firearm Charge?

Even though it seems unjust, Illinois courts have determined that enhancement clauses can be added to sentences even if the statute the defendant violated includes using a gun as an element.

For example, armed robbery occurs when a defendant robs a person or establishment using a deadly weapon or a firearm.  

If a defendant is charged with armed robbery with the use of a firearm and found guilty, then he can be sentenced to a number of years in prison for the armed robbery plus the 15-year enhancement for having a firearm on one’s person during the commission of the crime.  

Is There Any Way To Fight The Enhancement Charge?

There are defenses available in every case.  If the crime you are charged with involves a gun or it is one of the crimes above that includes a potential enhancement for the possession of a firearm, an experienced attorney can fight to defend you against the charges of the underlying crime and work to avoid an enhancement clause by showing you either did not possess a gun or did not use it during the commission of any crime.  The defenses in your case can only be determined after a thorough review of the evidence in your case.  

Contact Abdallah Law Today

Felony crimes are serious, and when they involve a firearm, the Illinois court system tries to impose long prison sentences.  

If you or a loved one are facing a felony firearm charge, contact Abdallah Law as soon as possible so we can fight for your freedom. Call Abdallah Law at 312-854-2677 or contact us today for a free consultation.