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Charles Howard

Other Illinois Exonerations for Weapon Possession or Sale
On September 27, 2009, 21-year-old Charles Howard was arrested in Chicago, Illinois and charged with aggravated unlawful use of a firearm.

On February 24, 2010, Howard pled guilty to the charge in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released on parole on March 23, 2012.

On June 1, 2013, Howard was again arrested with a firearm. On this occasion, he was charged with being an armed career criminal. The charge was based on his 2010 weapons conviction. On April 15, 2015, Howard pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In September 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court had ruled in People v. Aguilar that the portion of the statute under which Howard had been convicted in 2010 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 2020, Howard’s 2010 conviction was vacated, and the charge was dismissed based on the Aguilar ruling. At the same time, his armed career criminal conviction was vacated, and the charge was dismissed because it was based on the 2010 conviction which no longer existed.

In April 2021, attorney Ken Flaxman filed a motion on Howard’s behalf seeking certificates of innocence for both cases. On September 17, 2021, Presiding Cook County Circuit Court Judge Erica Reddick granted both certificates of innocence, clearing the way for Howard to seek compensation from the Illinois Court of Claims.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/21/2022
Last Updated: 3/21/2022
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Sentence:10 years
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No