Understanding Firearms Law with a Maryland Gun Crime Lawyer

Highly experienced Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney Paolo Gnocchi, practicing in Montgomery, Prince George’s and other counties.
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The State of Maryland has strict gun laws, especially compared to other parts of the United States.

Maryland’s gun laws regulate who can possess, carry, and sell firearms. Several gun offenses exist in the Criminal Code, and penalties include fines and jail time. The Maryland Criminal Law Code has both misdemeanor and felony gun offenses that depend on the facts and circumstances of the arrest and the individual’s background.

To navigate these complex laws, seeking guidance from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney familiar with Maryland gun laws is essential. The following information provides an overview of the state’s firearms regulations and how criminal defense attorneys can assist individuals facing gun charges.

Misdemeanor Gun Offenses Under the Maryland Criminal Code

The Maryland Criminal Code lists several gun offenses that are misdemeanor crimes. Wearing, Carrying, or Transporting a Firearm is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of 30 days to three years in jail and/or a $250.00 to $2,500.00 fine.

This offense prohibits individuals from wearing, carrying, or transporting a gun in Maryland without a proper permit. The Code Section that governs this offense is Section 4-203. This offense does not apply to uniformed personnel like police, members of the armed forces, and correctional officers. In addition, there is an exception for individuals traveling from either a gun range or place of legal sale.

Enhanced Penalties for Wearing, Carrying, or Transporting Firearm

Although the above offense is a misdemeanor, several scenarios can lead to enhanced penalties for committing the offense of wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm in Maryland.

If an individual is on a school property when caught with a firearm and not the proper permit, the minimum jail sentence increases to 90 days. For repeat offenders, the penalties for this offense increase to a 1 to 10-year prison sentence. If the second offense occurs on school property, the penalties increase even further.

Committing the offense of wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm in Maryland without a valid permit on school property and, as a second offense carries a prison sentence of three to 10 years.

Additional Misdemeanor Gun Offenses in Maryland


There are additional misdemeanor gun offenses in Maryland, including possessing deadly weapons on school property and giving access to a firearm to a child. The Maryland Criminal Code prohibits possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon on public school property. The maximum penalty for this offense is three years in prison and/or a $1,000.00 fine.

Maryland Criminal Code further prohibits granting children access to a firearm. The law considers a child in this situation to be someone under 16. This crime prohibits leaving or storing a weapon in a place where an unsupervised child could access the weapon. The weapon also must be loaded. However, the Code provides several exceptions to this offense.

First, its not a violation of the statute where the child is supervised by a person over 18. Second, nothing prohibits the child from accessing the firearm if its in response to an unlawful entry into the home. Third, it does not apply to law enforcement officers. Finally, where the child has the proper hunter and firearm safety certificate, they are permitted access.

Possession of a firearm during a public demonstration is another Maryland misdemeanor gun offense. The law defines public demonstration as engaging in public activity like speechmaking, marching, protesting, or holding a vigil, among other things. It is also illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of the public demonstration, including possessing it in one’s vehicle. The maximum penalty for this offense is one year in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.

Maryland Felony Gun Offenses


Using a handgun in the commission of a crime is a felony gun offense in Maryland. This law prohibits the carrying or possession of a firearm during the commission of violent crimes like robbery, burglary, or rape. In addition, the law does not require the gun to be operable.

The prison range for this offense is five to twenty years. The five years are mandatory under the law. That means the judge must sentence to the defendant when convicted to a minimum of five years in jail. The sentence also must run consecutive to any other sentence for a felony or violent crime.

Unlawful possession of a firearm is another Maryland felony gun offense. Anyone convicted of a disqualifying crime cannot lawfully possess a firearm in Maryland. Accordingly, its important to understand what types of criminal convictions can disqualify an individual from possessing a gun in Maryland. These offenses include all felonies, crimes of violence, and any misdemeanors carrying a maximum penalty higher than two years.

Additional circumstances can disqualify a citizen from legally possessing or carrying a firearm in Maryland. Its illegal for people under 21 to carry a firearm in Maryland. In addition, a person subject to a Protective Order may not lawfully possess or carry a firearm in Maryland. Judges will typically order anyone subject to a protective order to relinquish their firearms to a law enforcement agency.

Someone designated a habitual drunkard or drug user can get disqualified from lawfully possessing or carrying a gun. This typically involves someone convicted of two controlled substances crimes, including one within the last five years. If someone gets convicted for DUI or DWI, they cannot possess a lawful gun if it occurred within the last year. The penalties range from a five-year mandatory minimum to a maximum of 15 years.

Maryland Assault Weapon Ban

Maryland Criminal Code Section 40-301 defines what types of firearms constitute assault pistols. It is illegal to transport, possess, transfer, purchase, sell, offer to sell, or receive an assault pistol unless the individual had lawfully possessed the gun prior to June 1, 1994, and registered the gun prior to August 1, 1994. The law also exempts individuals who transport the firearm to law enforcement as ordered by the court as part of a surrender weapon order. This crime is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of three years in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine.

Furthermore, its illegal to possess or use an assault pistol during a crime of violence. Conviction for possession of an assault pistol during a crime of violence carries a five year mandatory minimum prison sentence. If its an individual’s second offense, the mandatory minimum penalty jumps to 10 years. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

In addition, Maryland law prohibits machine guns. Criminal Code Section 4-401(b) defines what constitutes a crime of violence in Maryland. Machine gun possession for an aggressive or offensive purpose carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. This offense is a misdemeanor. Use or possession of a machine gun during a crime of violence is a felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

What a Law Enforcement Officer Looks for During a Gun Arrest

Law enforcement officers are trained to recognize signs and behaviors that may lead them to suspect an individual is carrying a gun illegally. Some common indicators include:

  • Visible possession of a firearm without proper licensing or permit

  • Suspicious behavior, such as trying to conceal the weapon upon seeing law enforcement

  • Previous criminal history, specifically for weapons offenses

  • Matching the description of a suspect in a crime involving firearms

If arrested for possessing a firearm illegally, it is essential to remember that law enforcement officers are only doing their job and following protocols. It is best to remain calm and cooperate with their instructions. However, exercising one’s constitutional rights, such as remaining silent and requesting to speak with a lawyer, is also crucial.

Hiring a Maryland Gun Attorney

Consequences for both misdemeanor and felony gun offenses can be severe. Penalties can include jail time, probation, and fines. Accordingly, if arrested, charged, or under investigation for a Maryland gun offense, its incredibly important to consult a qualified Maryland criminal defense lawyer with experience defending gun crimes.

Attorney Paolo Gnocchi has represented individuals charged with both felony and misdemeanor offenses across the State of Maryland, including Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties as well as surrounding counties. If you or a friend or family member are facing a Maryland gun charge or arrest, contact Maryland gun lawyer Paolo Gnocchi today for a full case evaluation.

Its important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney guide you through the criminal justice system. An aggressive attorney will fight to protect your constitutional rights and try to help mitigate the potential consequences you may face for a Maryland gun charge. Contact the law offices of Paolo Gnocchi today to schedule a consultation and explore your legal options.


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Lysa S

Paolo Gnocchi is an excellent attorney. He offered sound advice and thoroughly explained the court process. If you are looking for professional representation and a reliable attorney that will advocate for you, Paolo is your guy. Joseph Scrofano and his team are all dedicated individuals. Hopefully I never need a criminal defense attorney again LOL, but if I do, Scrofano Law would be my choice!


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- 99% of cases that go court in DC end in convictions
- Last year there were 120 cases in DC and the conviction rate was 100%

Here is the good news, Joe represents people in DC and knows what he is doing! When I was charged with a crime that I didn’t commit, Joe went to work. Three years, a grueling court case, and one long battle later, I got to hear the words, “not guilty!” Joe didn’t just collect a retainer and show up on court date. He scrutinized every document in the case, subpoenaed the information he needed, and presented a perfect case of facts!

When you need someone that will fight for you and can actually win, Joe is the guy!!

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