In 2007, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a weapons enhancement was unenforceable because it imposed a harsher penalty than a second, corresponding law in violation of the state constitution proportionality clause. An enhancement is a secondary sentence that the judge can impose on a convicted defendant. Often enhancements can greatly increase the time a particular person spends behind bars.
To get around the court ruling, the Illinois legislature approved a new statute that reduced the corresponding statute to bring the enhancement within state constitutional provisions. The Court recognized the Legislatures blatant attempts to circumvent its ruling but stated that the intention of the ruling was met. With the amended secondary law, the enhancement was no longer harsher than an underlying statute and therefore in compliance with the state constitution.
The result of this case law and corresponding statutes is that people who are facing criminal charges can face significant time behind bars if facts are presented that show a weapon was used. The weapon may not even be utilized by every suspect to result in the enhancement. It is critical if you are facing these enhancements to retain counsel quickly so you can begin preparing a defense.
If you are facing a charge with a weapons enhancement then you may want to speak with an attorney. Enhancements are generally decided by the judge, not the jury, which means that you need to alter your approach to your defense. An attorney can go over your case and help to determine the best course of action to proceed. Mounting an effective criminal defense can be complicated. Don’t risk your freedom with sub-par representation, be careful in who you choose to assist you.