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Body Armor: What Seems Like a Good Idea Can Land You in Prison

January 30th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer,Gun crimes are a reality in our society. Otherwise law abiding citizens find themselves carrying guns or other weapons for self-defense when they themselves would never want to hurt a fly. Others resort to protective measures like bullet-proof vests or bullet-proof backpacks to protect themselves. While combining both measures may seem like an excellent self-defense strategy, doing so in Illinois could wind you up in some hot water.

What is Body Armor?

Illinois has a statute that defines body armor. Body armor can be any of the following:

  • Military-Style Vests and Jackets. These include flack jackets, military surveillance vests, and other types of protective armor designed to be worn by military personnel. They are made of Kevlar or similar materials which are designed to prevent bullets from penetrating the chest.  Usually these vests or jackets are designed to be worn over your clothing.

  • Soft body armor. Unlike flack jackets, these vests are softer, but they still contain Kevlar. These are designed to be worn under a shirt. In movies and on television when characters are shot and then get back up to reveal they had a “bullet-proof vest” on under their shirts, this is the type of body armor they are portraying.

  • Undercover body armor. Unlike the vest/jacket types mentioned above, this type of body armor can take many forms. While it still includes bullet-resistant material like Kevlar, it can take the form of a jacket, coat, raincoat, quilted vest,  or three piece suit vests. The key part of this portion of the statute is that the prohibited body armor was designed to be used by undercover police officers. Since that is a requirement, it is unlikely that things designed for use by school children like bulletproof backpacks would be covered.

Wearing Body Armor Can be a Crime

There is a crime in Illinois called “unlawful use of body armor.” If a person knowingly wears body armor and is in possession of a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, in the commission or attempted commission of any offense, then he or she is guilty of this crime. This means that committing a crime while possessing a weapon that is not a gun and wearing body armor at the same time is a crime.

Interestingly, one does not commit this crime if he or she is carrying a gun as opposed to a different dangerous weapon. However, there is a different crime one has to be concerned about when a gun is involved. If a person commits the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm while wearing or in possession of body armor, then he or she is guilty of a class X felony punishable by at least 10 and no more than 40 years in prison. Additionally, if one wears or possesses body armor while possessing a gun and not having been issued a valid Firearms Owner’s Identification Card, then he or she is guilty of a class X felony.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with a weapons crime or any criminal offense, you will need an experienced and passionate lawyer on your side. That is why you should call the law offices of experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we can schedule a consultation to discuss your case and see if we can be of help.

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