Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyers For Weapon And Gun Charges
Weapons and gun charges in Maryland are simultaneously vast and extremely circumstantial. Almost every situation is covered in the statute, but for every charge, there’s an equal exception.
Fight for justice in your gun and weapons charges with JC Law. We’ll defend your side of the story to a court of law so you can keep your rights and your freedoms.
What Weapons Are Illegal In Maryland?
Maryland forbids anyone wearing or carrying specific “dangerous weapons,” either concealed or with the “purpose of injuring an individual.” These include:
- Pepper mace
- Star, dirk, and bowie knives
- Metal knuckles
Penknives without switchblades, however, are still lawful and are not considered a “dangerous weapon.”
Notice that firearms aren’t included as part of the “dangerous weapons” list. That’s because guns are covered in statutes specifically for firearms.
So, Maryland law regulates handguns, rifles, shotguns, and other firearms. These include:
- Short-barreled shotguns and rifles
- “Assault” weapons (generally for those looking to acquire them after 2013)
- Machine guns
Finally, Maryland law prohibits “destructive devices,” which can include:
- Flamethrowers – sorry, Elon Musk
- Poison gas
- Molotov cocktails
- Pipe bombs
- “Petroleum-soaked ammonium nitrate”
Many of these regulations have a myriad of exceptions, up to and including private ownership, hunting use, and weapons licensing.
As with many crimes in Maryland, it’s not necessarily about mere possession. It’s often the possessor’s intent that creates a prosecutable circumstance.
How Can You Get A Concealed Carry License In Maryland?
Per Maryland regulations, legal adults aged 18 years or older can apply for a “wear and carry” handgun permit under a few stipulations.
- Young adults between 18 and 21 can only request such a permit if it’s part of their regular job duties.
- The applicant hasn’t gone to jail for at least a year due to a felony or misdemeanor, OR they weren’t convicted of something for which they could have gone to jail for at least two years.
- The applicant’s never been convicted of a crime involving a controlled substance.
- The applicant isn’t a known addict, unless they’re under medical supervision.
- The applicant isn’t prone to violence or any other behavior that could put people at risk if they have a gun.
- The applicant has a “good and substantial reason” to wear and carry a handgun.
- The applicant has completed the Maryland State Police’s “approved firearms training course” within two years of their original or renewal application submission.
As you can see, prior criminal convictions can greatly interfere with obtaining a lawful handgun permit. You’d also need a “good and substantial reason” to be granted a permit – you can’t just get a permit because you want one.
What Does Maryland Consider A Gun Crime?
Maryland has a whole host of firearm and gun charges it can levy against a defendant. However, many of them have exceptions for everyday use.
Therefore, speaking generally, in Maryland, you cannot carry or transport handguns, unless:
- It’s part of your job.
- You’re on your own property or at your own company.
- You’re a collector moving a firearms collection.
- You’re going to a gun-related activity such as target practice or dog training.
- You’re hunting, among other rationale.
In Maryland, you cannot transport, have, sell, transfer, purchase, or receive an assault weapon, unless:
- You bought it before June 1994 and it’s registered with the Maryland Secretary of State Police.
- You’re a firearms dealer who owned the assault weapon that you’re selling before October 2013.
- You’re transporting it to and from a “ballistics testing laboratory” or other official research site.
In Maryland, you cannot have a machine gun, unless:
- You’re actually facilitating or transporting lawful machine gun sales to law enforcement.
- You have it as a memento, and it can’t actually be used as a weapon.
- You have it for a “purpose that is manifestly not aggressive or offensive.”
Magazine capacities are also limited to 10 rounds or fewer of any type of ammunition.
These are extremely generalized interpretations of Maryland weapons statutes. If you have any questions about a specific situation, talk to a lawyer.
Besides Guns, What Other Weapons Crimes Can A Maryland Prosecutor Charge?
First of all, Maryland law frowns on bombs. It seems self-explanatory, but anything that can explode or is considered a “destructive device” is off-limits for everyday Maryland citizens.
Second, you can’t carry several different types of what Maryland law considers to be “dangerous” or “deadly” weapons outside of the house.
Of course, it’s all about context, but the following types of weapons are typically considered as forbidden:
- Fancy knives, such as bowie or star knives
- Brass knuckles
Your average pen knife, Swiss army knife, or box cutter is still publicly permissible. Just don’t try to stab someone with them, or you’ll be accused of aggravated assault.
What Is Maryland’s “Red Flag Law” Regarding Gun Possession?
Back in October 2018, Maryland signed into law a statute that’s colloquially known as a red flag law.
Basically, if a member of the public is worried that someone is not in the right mental state to possess firearms and may present an immediate threat to themselves or others, they can request Maryland law enforcement to collect the person’s weapons.
The request can be made by a family member, neighbor, or any individual who believes the person is a risk to public safety.
Whenever a request to restrict firearm access is deemed credible and appropriate, Maryland issues an Extreme Risk Protection Order.
Not every request is granted. In the red flag law’s first official month, 114 requests were made, but only 36 of them were granted.
Once an Extreme Risk Protection Order is issued, the person must surrender all firearms they have to the police. If not, local police will take any weapons from that individual since they’re in mental crisis, seriously mentally ill, or otherwise in distress – presenting a public health hazard.
Firearms seized under an Extreme Risk Protection Order are legal in the name of public safety and generally do not infringe upon a Marylander’s 2nd Amendment rights.
What Are Possible Sentences For Maryland Convictions Of Weapons Charges?
Sentences for weapons and guns charges vary wildly in Maryland. They depend heavily on the context in which they were issued.
- Possessing a dangerous weapon: A misdemeanor with up to 3 years in prison and a $1,000 maximum fine.
- Using a handgun or “antique firearm” in a crime: A misdemeanor with no less than five years and no more than 20 years in prison. Parole eligibility begins at year five.
- Wearing/carrying a handgun: For a first-time offender, it’s a misdemeanor with a prison sentence of no less than 30 days and no more than three years with a fine of at least $250 and no more than $2,500. For subsequent offenses, you’d go to prison for no less than three years and no more than 10 years.
- Possessing an illegal assault weapon or excessive magazine: A misdemeanor with up to three years in prison and a $5,000 maximum fine.
- Using an assault weapon or gun with a magazine of 10+ ammunition during a felony or crime of violence: A misdemeanor jail sentence of no less than five years and no more than 20 years for a first offense alone.
- Using a machine gun in a crime of violence: A felony with up to 20 years in prison.
- Using a machine gun for “aggressive purpose”: A misdemeanor with up to 10 years in prison.
- Making, using, or having the components with the intent to make a “destructive device:” A felony with up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 max. Restitution may also be ordered. (There are special “delinquent” juvenile charges for minors regarding destructive devices.)
Weapons charges can also be used as a reason to “level up” other charges against a defendant.
For example, a simple assault case becomes aggravated assault when a weapon is involved – upping the criminal sentence potential significantly.
How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Win A Gun Charge Or Weapons Crime Case?
As you can see, weapons and gun crimes in Maryland run the gamut and offer plenty of exceptions to the rule – exceptions which a talented criminal defense firm can use to our clients’ advantage.
For example, you could be returning from a hunting trip, be pulled over for speeding, and suddenly face charges for transporting a handgun.
Or, what about that WWII artifact you inherited from your grandfather which abruptly makes you the target of felony destructive device charges?
Then, there’s how the law enforcement in question found your firearms. It’s possible for their search and seizure to have been illegal under the 4th Amendment, depending on the circumstances and warrants possibly issued in the case.
Only a criminal defense lawyer with years defending weapons and guns cases can know for sure how best to defend against weapons allegations.
When you’re looking at years in jail, it’s best to call in the experts to champion your side of the story in court.
“James Crawford and Mark Sobel are the best lawyers. James explained my situation in detail, and Mark walked me through the whole process. I was so impressed by his intelligence in my complicated case. I definitely recommend Mr. Sobel and the James E. Crawford office in general to anyone who needs a qualified and experienced lawyer.”
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