I try to never fly out of O’Hare because for me getting to Midway is easier. It’s about half the time on the train from the Loop and when you get to the airport at O’Hare it feels like it takes forever to actually get to a gate. That’s to be expected at what was once known as the world’s busiest airport.
Despite my personal preferences, more than 30 million people come through O’Hare each year which is almost double the traffic of Midway. And while crimes can occur at both places, I definitely see more arrests at O’Hare by far. One of the biggest is for people who are found to have a gun in their carry on luggage or a loaded weapon in their checked luggage. While you can legally check an unloaded firearm in a locked hard-sided container, many people make a mistake.
The most common error we see is someone who simply forgot that they had a gun in a backpack or didn’t know. Often these are legal gun owners from places like Indiana who drove to O’Hare to catch a longer flight.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can issue a civil penalty to you for this type of violation with a first offense being around $4,000. The fine could exceed $13,000 depending on aggravating factors. The bigger worry is that in most cases you will get arrested for this error and charged with at least a misdemeanor. That is potentially punishable by up to a year in jail. Of course a felony charge could have a more significant jail sentence. Although TSA is a Federal agency, any arrest would be made by the Chicago Police and you’d end up in criminal court in Cook County. You will get arrested even if you have a valid FOID card and a concealed carry permit. Simply put, there is no right to bring a gun through security at an airport.
The good news is that most of these cases are charged as misdemeanors and attorneys who know how to defend criminal gun charge cases in Chicago can usually get the case dismissed. There’s no guarantee of that of course, but in almost every case we’ve been contacted in, the lawyers we have recommended have been able to achieve a successful outcome to the case.
In other words, this arrest is of course something you should worry about, but not something to panic about. Unlawful use of a weapon is a serious charge, but with the right attorney in your corner, you can avoid a conviction and jail time. Most of these attorneys are former prosecutors with over 20 years of experience and a great track record of success.
If you would like to speak with a lawyer for free about these charges and get help in a referral to the best Chicago criminal defense attorney for your case, please call us any time at 312-346-5320. All calls are free and confidential.