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Zachery Smith

Other Illinois Exonerations for Weapon Possession and Sale
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On August 28, 2009, 28-year-old Zachery Smith was arrested in Chicago, Illinois and charged with aggravated unlawful use of a firearm.

On November 6, 2009, Smith pled guilty to the charge in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

In September 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in People v. Aguilar that the portion of the statute under which Smith had been convicted was unconstitutional. The statute said that a person committed the offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when a person “carries on or about his person or in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person except when on his land or in his abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm and the firearm is uncased, loaded and immediately accessible.”

The court held that this portion of the statute violated the right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

In 2019, Smith, represented by attorney Thomas Crooks, filed a motion to vacate the conviction based on the Aguilar ruling. On May 10, 2019, the motion to vacate the gun conviction was granted and the charge was dismissed. On June 1, 2021, Presiding Cook County Circuit Court Judge Erica Reddick granted Smith a certificate of innocence, clearing the way for him to seek compensation from the Illinois Court of Claims.

In July 2021, the Illinois Court of Claims awarded Smith $30,000 and an additional $10,000 for attorney Crooks.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/21/2022
Last Updated: 3/21/2022
State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Convicted:2009
Exonerated:2021
Sentence:3 years
Race/Ethnicity:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No