FREDERICK GUN CRIME LAWYERS
Helping You Fight Serious Criminal Charges
Criminal charges involving illegal possession of firearms or possession of an illegal firearm are often referred to as gun crimes. The state of Maryland forcefully prosecutes any case involving a gun crime because prosecutors see it as a chance of locking up a “dangerous criminal.” In reality, a defendant is probably an average person who made one mistake, but that won’t lessen the potential penalties like a mandatory jail sentence and the removal of gun possession rights.
If you have been charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm or another gun crime, rely on the Frederick gun crime defense attorneys at Portner & Shure, P.A. Our firm has advocated on behalf of those accused of serious gun charges throughout Maryland for more than 25 years. We understand the law and recognize that your livelihood is at stake when facing such charges. Our lawyers are prepared to advocate tirelessly on your behalf and protect your rights, freedom, and future.
Contact us at (240) 770-0509 for a free and confidential consultation with our litigation team.
Gun Laws in Maryland
Although the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, this right is subject to limitations. In particular, a state’s gun crime definitions and penalties can suspend or eliminate that right for certain people after a conviction. Gun regulations vary by state, but Maryland’s laws are known for regulating handgun ownership and possession extensively.
Carrying or Possessing a Firearm in Frederick
Pursuant to Maryland Criminal Code § 4-203, “any person who wears, carries, or transports any handgun, whether concealed or open, upon or about his or her person, and any person who wears, carries, or knowingly transports any handgun, whether concealed or open, in any vehicle traveling upon the public roads, highways, waterways, or airways or upon roads or parking lots generally used by the Maryland public is guilty of a misdemeanor. It is a rebuttable presumption that the person is knowingly transporting the handgun.”
The statute makes the possession of a handgun illegal without special licensing and permits. Law enforcement personnel and licensed handgun owners can still carry a handgun. Possessing a handgun on private property used as a residence or business can also be permitted. Under the handgun statute, the burden is upon the accused to prove that they had a legal reason for carrying the weapon.
If convicted of violating the Maryland handgun statute, the resulting incarceration sentence can be between 30 days and 10 years. The penalty depends on the defendant’s criminal record. This statute also contains mandatory minimums, which means the defendant will not be eligible for parole until the minimum incarceration time has passed.
Prohibited Person Possessing a Handgun
The right to keep and bear arms is not absolute. People can be deemed disqualified to own or possess a firearm due to various circumstances.
A person may not possess, own, carry, or transport a firearm if that person has been convicted of a:
- Felony under the Maryland Controlled Dangerous Substances Act;
- Crime under the laws of another state or of the United States that would be a felony under the Act if committed in Maryland;
- Conspiracy to commit a crime referred to in the abovementioned sections; or
- Crime that was attempted to complete any of the aforementioned crimes.
A person who is convicted of a felony is subject to imprisonment not exceeding five years, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both.
A person can also be disqualified from ownership or possession of a handgun if they:
- Are under the age of 21;
- Have been diagnosed with certain mental health disorders;
- Have been convicted of a disqualifying offense (anything classified as a felony or any crime that carries a penalty of more than two years);
- Have been previously found to be “not criminally responsible” at trial for a criminal offense;
- Are a fugitive from justice; or
- Are subject to a protective order.
A conviction for this offense carries a maximum penalty of 15 years with a 5-year minimum sentence. During the first five years of that sentence, the convicted individual will not be eligible for parole, and this minimum cannot be suspended.
Use of a Gun During a Violent Crime
Any person who uses a firearm in the commission of any felony or any crime of violence, whether the weapon is operable or inoperable at the time of the offense, is guilty of a separate misdemeanor. They will be subject to a separate minimum mandatory sentence for that crime.
As defined by Maryland statutes, a “crime of violence” includes:
- First-degree arson
- First- or second-degree assault
- Most burglary charges
- Carjacking and armed carjacking
- First-degree escape
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Mayhem as previously proscribed by a statute
- First- or second-degree murder
- First- or second-degree rape
- Robbery with a dangerous weapon
- Most sex crime charges
- An attempt to commit any of the above offenses
- Assault with intent to commit any of the aforesaid offenses or any offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year
To obtain a conviction for using a handgun in a crime of violence, the State is only required to prove that the defendant intended to use the handgun in a felony or crime of violence. This means that a defendant can be convicted of the use of a handgun in a crime of violence even if they did not actual possession or control of a handgun at that time. Arguing through the use of mens rea allows the prosecution to call for a conviction based solely on the idea that the defendant intended to use a handgun during a crime of violence.
Possession or Storage of Explosives for Use in Firearms
There are various prohibitions punishable as misdemeanors pertaining to the possession or storage of explosives for use in firearms.
The prohibitions include the following:
- A limit on possession or storage of explosives for this use in firearms unless licensed;
- Engaging in the business of loading or reloading small arms ammunition unless licensed as a dealer;
- Possessing or storing explosives for use in firearms in any quantity in multifamily dwellings, apartments, dormitories, hotels, schools or other public buildings, or buildings or structures open for public use;
- Selling, bartering, giving, or disposing of more than a specified amount of black powder or smokeless powder for use in firearms to any one person at any one time outside typical dealer regulations;
- Failing to file required reports or records about storage, possession, and transactions; and
- Failing to file a required report of a theft of explosives.
A conviction for possession or storage of explosives for use in firearms is a fact-specific scenario and requires the expertise of a knowledgeable Frederick gun crime attorney. An experienced lawyer will work with you to evaluate your specific situation and determine if there are applicable defenses.
Defenses to Gun Crimes in Frederick, Maryland
Gun cases are oftentimes defined by a Fourth Amendment argument. Under the Fourth Amendment and the Maryland Constitution, illegally gathered evidence may be excluded from use by all parties, including the prosecution. The focal point for many gun crime defenses is figuring out how to refute any and all evidence the prosecution intends to use against the defendant.
The Value of Hiring Portner & Shure, P.A.
The veteran attorneys at Portner & Shure, P.A. have worked on behalf of those accused of gun charges in Frederick for more than two decades. In addition to countless excellent reviews from prior clients, we have earned a reputation in the legal community for excellence. Just one example is that the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys of 2020 recently recognized Portner & Shure, P.A. as one of Maryland’s “10 Best Law Firms.” Let us put our experience to work defending you and your firearm rights!
To schedule a free consultation with our Frederick gun crimes lawyers, dial (240) 770-0509 or contact us online.
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