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Is Possession of a Weapon Without a FOID Card a Felony in Illinois?

Posted on behalf of Donahue & Kililis, PC | July 2, 2024

Although the Second Amendment protects people’s right to bear arms, states can require residents to apply for licenses or permits to purchase or possess firearms and ammunition. In Illinois, residents must hold a valid Firearm Owners Identification card to possess firearms or ammunition. Possession of weapons without a card may constitute a criminal offense.


Understanding FOID Cards

 In Illinois, residents must obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card to possess firearms and ammunition lawfully. The Illinois State Police issues FOID cards to qualified applicants. FOID cards remain valid for ten years, at which point cardholders may request a renewal.


The ISP automatically renews FOID cards for individuals who submit complete sets of fingerprints to the ISP as part of their application for a FOID card or Concealed Carry License (CCL).


However, Illinois law exempts specific individuals from the requirement to obtain a FOID to possess firearms or ammunition, including federal officials engaged in official duties, members of the Armed Forces or National Guard engaged in official duties, members of bona fide veteran’s organizations that receive firearms directly from the Armed Forces who use firearms for ceremonial purposes with blank ammunition, nonresident hunters, nonresidents attending a shooting range or firearm showing, and nonresidents transporting unloaded firearms in an enclosed case.


Legal Requirements to Obtain a FOID Card

 Applicants for an Illinois FOID card must meet eligibility requirements, including:


  • Being at least 21 or having a parent or guardian sponsor who meets the eligibility requirements for a FOID card
  • Not having any prohibitions of possessing firearms under state or federal law, including no prior felony or domestic violence convictions, no prior convictions for violent crimes involving firearms, no drug addictions, no admissions to mental health facilities within the last five years
  • Being a citizen or a non-citizen lawfully present in the U.S. under an immigrant visa or green card
  • Being a resident of Illinois
  • Not having a mental condition that poses a danger to the applicant or others


Consequences of Possessing a Weapon Without a FOID Card

 Possessing a firearm in Illinois without a FOID card or without meeting any of the statutory exceptions may result in criminal charges. The grading of a charge of violating the FOID card requirement depends on the circumstances of the offense, including whether a defendant has prior violations of the FOID card requirement. Offenses can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 1 felony, with penalties that include:


  • Class A misdemeanor: Up to 364 days in jail
  • Class 4 felony: One to three years in prison
  • Class 3 felony: Two to five years in prison
  • Class 2 felony: Three to seven years in prison
  • Class 1 felony: Four to 15 years in prison


Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

 If you’ve been arrested and charged with possession of a firearm without a FOID in Illinois, you need experienced legal representation to defend your rights and future. Contact Edward J. Donahue Law, PC, for a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable Illinois weapons charge defense lawyer today.

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