The State of Maryland has tough gun laws especially compared to other parts of the United States.
Maryland gun laws regulate who can possess, carry, and sale firearms in the state. Several gun offenses exist in the Criminal Code and penalties include fines and jail time. The Maryland Criminal Code has both misdemeanor and felony gun offenses that depend on the facts and circumstances of the arrest and the individual’s background.
Misdemeanor Gun Offenses in Maryland
The Maryland Criminal Code lists several gun offenses that are misdemeanor crimes. Wearing, Carrying, or Transporting a Firearm is a misdemeanor offense that carries 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 military, and correctional officers. In addition, there is an exception for individuals travelling 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, there are several scenarios that 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 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 the age of 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 the age of 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 some type of 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 a violent offense 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 if 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 go carry a firearm in Maryland. In addition, a person subject to a Protective Order may not lawfully possess or carry a firearm in Maryland. In fact, 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.
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 Morgan Leigh 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 Attorney Morgan Leigh today for a full case evaluation.
Its important to have an 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.