Legislation Expands Qualifications for Deferred Prosecution for First Time Gun Offenders
Illinois recently passed into law an expansion of who can qualify for the second chance probation program with bipartisan support. Under the previous law, enacted as a pilot program in Illinois which would have ended in January 2024, first time offenders under the age of 21 at the time of arrest who were charged with illegal possession of a gun could qualify for the program that would defer their prosecution and ultimately dismiss charges if offenders completed a probationary period successfully. The new legislation shortens the probationary period, makes the program indefinite and, crucially, eliminates the age requirement, expanding those who qualify.
New Legislation Gives Courts and Prosecutors More Flexibility
One of the Republican legislators who supported the bill in the senate, state Senator Andrew Chesney of Freeport, said he supported the bill to protect individuals who could be “unfairly targeted for, in my view, unconstitutional registration of firearms, a lack of a F.O.I.D. card, perhaps a misunderstanding or delays in the concealed carry permitting process.” Now individuals charged with their first gun offense later in life can likewise qualify for the program and not have their constitutional right to have a firearm permanently taken away due to a conviction should prosecutors allow them to defer prosecution. Such flexibility is always welcome to the courts and prosecutors, but it is far from a given. Individuals arrested for a gun charge should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to present certain information to prosecutors to convince them that the defendant arrestee is a proper and deserving candidate for a deferred prosecution program and convince them to exercise their discretion in the individual case.