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Darnell Brown

Other Illinois Exonerations for Weapon Possession or Sale
On May 17, 2011, Chicago police arrested 19-year-old Darnell Brown and charged him with aggravated unlawful use of a firearm.

On August 15, 2013, Brown pled guilty to the charge in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to one year in prison. He was released the following day after being given credit for 821 days spent in the Cook County Jail before his guilty plea. Brown’s parole was later revoked after he was arrested for a different crime (burglary), and, as a result, he served an additional 141 days in jail.

In September 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in People v. Aguilar that the portion of the statute under which Brown 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 2020, attorney Joel Flaxman filed a motion to vacate Brown’s conviction based on the Aguilar ruling. By that time, Brown was serving a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, unrelated to his 2013 firearm conviction. On October 14, 2020, the motion was granted. Brown’s 2013 conviction was vacated, and the charge was dismissed.

Flaxman filed a motion for a certificate of innocence on the dismissed charge. On November 23, 2020, Chief Cook County Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. granted the motion.

Brown subsequently filed a claim with the Illinois Court of Claims seeking compensation and was awarded $60,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/2/2022
Last Updated: 11/12/2022
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Sentence:1 year
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No