Articles Posted in Gun Crimes

Published on:

Gun-evidence-box-300x225The United States Supreme Court recently decided to uphold a federal statute that criminalizes gun possession for those subject to civil domestic violence court orders.  In the 8-1 decision, the Court appeared to offer a looser interpretation of the gun rights afforded by the Second Amendment than the previous landmark ruling in New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.  The opinion in Bruen cited our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation in striking down a New York law that previously required citizens to prove a need to obtain a concealed carry permit.  In this recent opinion the Supreme Court said the appeals court incorrectly set our searching for a historical twin to the modern law prohibiting respondents in civil domestic violence orders from otherwise lawfully possessing firearms.  Rather, the high court admonished the lower court for not for not looking for a historical equivalent that was readily available.  Centuries old “going armed” laws banned gun possession for those thought to present a danger to others.  Modern civil protective orders are granted in cases where a judge determines the respondent presents a danger to the petitioner, and thus the historical analogue mentioned in Bruen is satisfied.

The law at issue was 18 United States Code section 922, which is one of the most commonly prosecuted gun crimes in federal court.  It allows federal prosecutors to charge convicted criminals, fugitives, those dishonorably discharged from the military, juveniles, drug users and the mentally ill with a crime for knowingly possessing a firearm.  Subsection (g)(8) deals specifically with those who after being afforded a hearing have been ordered by a judge to refrain from harming or placing in fear a former spouse or intimate partner.  Violation of this subsection is a serious felony offense that carries up to 15 years in prison, so even first-time offenders could potentially face a significant prison sentence without ever having been convicted of a crime in the past.  We do not see a ton of cases being prosecuted under these circumstances due to the fact that many states have their own laws regarding gun possession by respondents in civil domestic cases.  Maryland for example has strict laws regarding firearm possession by respondents in protective order cases.  Anyone who is currently under a domestic violence protective order is prohibited from possessing a gun under Public Safety code section 5-133.  A violation of this statute could lead to up to five years in prison and additional charges for violation of a protective order under family law section 4-509.  Even those who are under a temporary protective order may be prohibited from possessing a firearm if the judge determines a firearm was used or there was a threat of serious bodily harm.

The fact that the law was upheld by the Supreme Court means the protective order subsections of the Maryland Family Law Article will not have to undergo major changes. Striking down the law would have required the legislature to change the language in a host of statues, but now it will be business as usual.  Respondents in protective orders will almost always be forced to surrender their firearms after a temporary order is signed by a judge, and in all cases when a final order is effectuated.  If you have a question about a protective order, contact Maryland domestic violence lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin specializes in domestic assault, protective order violations, peace orders, destruction of property, telephone misuse, harassment and all other state and federal crimes.  Benjamin is also highly experienced in defending state and federal gun charges such as possession by a convicted felon or other disqualified individual, possession of a firearm at a federal facility and minor in possession of a firearm.  He is available 7 days a week to discuss your case and is standing by to take on bail reviews and motions to recall bench warrants or arrest warrants on short notice.  Call Benjamin at 410-207-2598 to discuss your case today.

Published on:

Gun-evidence-box-300x225While Maryland lawmakers are busy hamming out new legislation to send to the Governor for a signature two current state laws are under scrutiny in the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.  These laws have been the subject of numerous headlines over the last few years, and now their Constitutionality is being put to the test.  The first law is the Maryland Handgun Qualification program, which requires all citizens to obtain a license in order to purchase a handgun.  The license, commonly known as an HQL, can only be obtained after a rigorous background check complete with fingerprinting and completion of a 4-hour gun safety class.  As a result of these requirements, purchasers face a delay of weeks or even months before they can obtain a handgun.  The HQL was originally struck down by a panel of three federal judges, but the State of Maryland filed for a rehearing and the program was brought back to life.  The State Police never actually stopped enforcing the HQL program despite the original ruling declaring it unconstitutional back in November.  Arguments are currently in progress, and a ruling could come down in a matter of weeks.  Either side could potentially petition the Supreme Court of the United States to review an unfavorable decision, but at this stage if the law is struck down the HQL program would likely be shelved or scrapped completely.

The second law that is up for debate in the federal appeals court is the assault weapons ban that followed with the passage of the Firearms Safety Act of 2013.  This debate is far more complex and involves a full examination of the history of the Second Amendment and the balance of gun rights against the dangers of military style weapons being readily available for purchase.  Maryland criminal law section 4-301 provides the definition of an assault weapon per Maryland lawmakers.  It lists more than 80 specific gun models including the infamous AK-47, Uzi semiautomatic pistol and AR-15 rifle.  These weapons have been widely used on Hollywood movie sets and unfortunately in a host of real-life shootings.  The problem with these weapons is not only their large capacity magazines but also their ability to fire numerous rounds within seconds.  This ultimately reduces accuracy and places innocent bystanders at risk if the weapon falls into the wrong hands.  A violation of the ban on possession of an assault rifle is currently a misdemeanor with a 3-year maximum penalty under 4-306 of the criminal code.  If the assault rifle is used in a crime the penalty becomes up to 20 years with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.  Use of a firearm in a crime does not require the State to prove that the gun was discharged.

The Blog will continue to follow each of these cases and will post a follow-up article when the courts have made their rulings.  If you or a loved one has been charged with any criminal offense, contact Maryland gun possession lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin has successfully defended more than 200 clients in gun crimes ranging from possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or disqualified individual to unlawful wear, transport or carry of a firearm.  He has represented out of state residents and juveniles charged as adults in cases involving possession of a firearm by a minor.  He has successfully transferred numerous cases from adult court to juvenile court, and secured the release of his juvenile clients.  Benjamin has also represented dozens of clients in federal court for gun possession at a federal facility such as the NIH or various miliary bases and has handled unlawful transfer of a firearm to an out of state individual.  Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation about your case at 410-207-2598.
Published on:

money-941228__340-300x225Three men were arrested after Prince George’s County Police executed a search warrant at an apartment in Laurel.  Police seized more than 3,000 fentanyl pills, cash and numerous weapons.  One of the weapons was an AK-47 style semi-automatic machine gun.  The main defendant, was recently charged by the State’s Attorney’s Office in a 20-count Circuit Court indictment, which includes eight felony counts. The charges include possession with intent to distribute narcotics, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, firearm possession in a drug trafficking crime, CDS possession and machine gun aggressive purpose.  The machine gun law under 4-405 of the Maryland criminal code is basically an enhanced statute that has double the maximum penalty of a possession of a typical firearm.  While this law does not provide a mandatory minimum penalty, it does carry a 10-year maximum prison sentence upon conviction.  For comparison, illegal possession of a regulated firearm under the Maryland public safety code and wear, transport and carry of a firearm both carry a 5-year maximum penalty.

Two of the defendants face numerous mandatory minimum sentences for firearm possession in a drug trafficking crime under Maryland criminal law 5-621.  The focus of any criminal defense strategy typically begins with the crimes that carry mandatory jail time, as even the most lenient judges are unable to get around a mandatory sentence.  After addressing the firearm drug trafficking charges, the focus will likely shift to the fentanyl possession with intent to distribute count.  Under Maryland law, PWID fentanyl carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, which is half the 20-year maximum penalty for PWID narcotics such as cocaine or heroin.  On the other hand, the sentencing guideline offense score is significantly higher for a fentanyl charge than a standard narcotics charge.  While this makes little logical sense, the fentanyl statute is newer, and rather than lower the maximum penalty for narcotics distribution (which always scare lawmakers) the legislature simply made a more reasonable and modern maximum penalty for the fentanyl charge.

The main defendant in this case will have to face trial in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, but he has another case to take care of first.  Court records show that he pled guilty to a misdemeanor gun possession offense and a misdemeanor conspiracy to possess narcotics with intent to distribute back in 2022.  He was originally in drug court, though it appears he was removed from drug court last week and will be sentenced on the original charges in March.  The second co-defendant does not appear to have a prior criminal record in Maryland, though he hails from Washington D.C.  Finally, the third co-defendant, a young man from Howard County, faces charges for drug possession, false statement to a law enforcement officer and machine gun aggressive purpose for this incident.  He is currently being held without bail in Howard County for charges stemming from an alleged unrelated second degree assault and is scheduled to appear in the District Court for Prince George’s County in February.

Published on:

gun-728958_1280-300x169According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland a 19-year-old man from Greenbelt recently received an 8-year prison sentence in a multi count federal indictment.  Following completion of the prison sentence, which is not parole eligible, the young defendant will be on three years of supervised release. Supervised release is the federal terminology for probation, and violation of supervised release can lead to an additional jail sentence.  The case resolved by way of a guilty plea to illegal possession of a machinegun, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and fentanyl and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Despite his young age, the defendant was already on probation in an unrelated Prince George’s County state court case and had been arrested and released on other state charges before being indicted in federal court. The press release from the USAO MD does not indicate whether the defendant had a juvenile criminal record, and at least some of the alleged criminal acts in the indictment occurred when he was just 18.

According to the facts recited by the government at the plea hearing the Prince George’s County Police began investigating the defendant back in the spring of 2022 for suspected firearm and drug trafficking offenses.  The defendant allegedly advertised the sale of guns and narcotics through social media posts, which ultimately lead to the execution of a search warrant of his apartment.  In preparation for the execution of the search warrant officers observed the defendant conduct a hand-to-hand transaction with an unidentified individual outside of the apartment.  The defendant allegedly reached into a designer bag and handed the contents to the suspected customer.  A short time later the defendant left his apartment with the same designer bag.  Prince George’s County officers followed the suspect as he left in a rideshare vehicle, and conducted a traffic stop a short time later.  After ordering the suspect out of the vehicle police observed a .40 caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number on the floor where he was sitting.  Cops also recovered close to 300 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and $790 in cash.  Despite these facts the defendant was released 12 days later at a bail review. Rather than stay on the straight and narrow, the defendant admitted in the plea that he continued to sell drugs and possess firearms.

Less than two months after the first arrest, and shortly after his 19th birthday a PG County police officer in District Heights observed the defendant smoking marijuana on a sidewalk.  The officer then observed the defendant discard an item behind a car and begin to walk away.  This action obviously peaked the officer’s interest, and he exited his unmarked patrol car to have a closer look.  The defendant then fled on foot but was apprehended a short time later.  A search in the area revealed an AR-15 style ghost gun with a loaded 30 round magazine and a round in the chamber.  Police also found two pill bottles that contained 5mg oxycodone pills and counterfeit oxy pills with a fentanyl mixture.  The defendant was arrested and charged in Prince George’s County state court, but the charges were announced nolle prosequi in lieu of the federal indictment.

Published on:

holster-648014__480-300x206The Maryland State Police recently issued an agency-wide memo instructing its employees to continue to uphold the HQL law, which was just declared unconstitutional by a panel of three federal judges last week in Richmond.  Citing the infamous 2022 Supreme Court decision out of New York, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License is overly burdensome and not consistent with historically accepted limitations on firearm purchases.  Gun lobbyists from the NRA hailed the ruling as a major victory, while state officials including the Governor and the Mayor of Baltimore City expressed displeasure with the decision.  When the ruling came down last week the Governor’s Office issued a statement expressing a desire to continue to fight for the HQL, but this week the Attorney General’s Office stated they are weighing their options.  Enforcing the HQL despite the recent ruling may not end up being much of a story, as the decision has yet to become legally binding.  The federal court has not issued a mandate yet and will not do so until 7 days after the 14-day window to request a rehearing has expired.  If the State does not request a rehearing the mandate to strike down the HQL process would go into effect on December 11.  The State could also seek review by the Supreme Court though based on the Bruen ruling out of New York it would be unlikely to prevail.

The Blog will continue to follow this exchange between the courts and a state that is predominantly anti-gun.  Some lawmakers may try to circumvent this federal trend to loosen the state’s gun laws by introducing bills when the legislative session commences in January in Annapolis.  While these bills can sometimes create a few news headlines for attention hungry members of the House or Senate, they will likely be shot down by more experienced members of the judiciary committees.  Local politicians have already tried to circumvent state federal law by enacting county ordinances that restrict handgun possession beyond what state law allows.  A recent opinion in the Montgomery County Circuit Court struck down a county ordinance that prohibited firearm possession within 100 yards of any public or private place of assembly including schools, daycare centers, libraries and businesses.  The ordinance brashly attempted to start the measurement from the edge of the parking lots of these places, which would have restricted firearm possession of a licensed individual while traveling on a state highway.  Another provision of this overturned law attempted to restrict possession of ghost guns by outlawing privately manufactured gun parts without serial numbers.  Once again, this attempt to circumvent state and federal law was struck down by a judge for being overly broad and more restricted than state law.

January is shaping up to be an interesting month in Annapolis, and we will be providing updates on all the criminal law developments, including those aimed at banning ghost guns and making it more difficult to wear, transport and carry a firearm.  If you or a loved one has been charged with a firearm crime, contact Maryland gun possession lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin vigorously defends adults and juveniles in all Maryland courts from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland.  He has won jury trials for offenses such as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, use of a firearm in a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a minor.  Benjamin also specializes in warrant recall motions, bail review hearings for gun offenses and domestic crimes and is an experienced Maryland violation of probation attorney.  Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598 and learn what defenses may apply to your case.

Published on:

pistol-1350484_1280-300x200Roughly ten years ago Maryland lawmakers passed the Firearm Safety Act of 2013.  For the last decade anyone who wished to purchase a handgun in Maryland was forced to apply to the State Police for Handgun Qualification License or HQL.  There were several requirements for obtaining a HQL, with the first being eligibility to own and possess any type of firearm.  In Maryland this meant the applicant must have been at least 21 years old and have no prior convictions for an offense that carried a maximum penalty of two years or more.  Additionally, all Maryland HQL applicants must have completed a four-hour gun safety course that included firing an actual round and passing a background check.  The background check mandated that the applicant be fingerprinted, and any prior criminal or domestic violence related cases that show up were be considered.  There is no statute of limitations for prior convictions, as we have seen applicants denied for 40 and even 50-year-old criminal convictions.   Once the State Police approved a person for an HQL, he or she would be permitted to purchase a handgun provided the appropriate federal ATF forms are also filled out properly.  In Maryland an HQL did not give a purchaser the right to carry or transport a handgun or any firearm for that matter.  A person who is caught driving with or carrying a firearm without a concealed carry permit will likely be arrested and charged regardless of whether they held a valid HQL.  Possessing an HQL potentially helped in mitigation, but it was never a defense to a firearm possession charge.

Maryland Handgun Qualification Licenses have been much easier to obtain than wear and carry permits, but the 2022 Supreme Court decision in Bruen drastically turned the tide.  These days in Maryland a large percentage of HQL holders were able to obtain a carry permit if they completed additional gun education and safety requirements.  Lately we have received more calls about HQL denials than wear and carry permit denials, but as of this week we may never field a call about a HQL denial again.  On Tuesday a federal appeals court struck down the entire HQL policy, and specifically called out the background check requirement that has forced law abiding gun purchasers to wait a minimum of one month before being able to obtain a handgun.  The appeals court opined that the state failed to demonstrate any historical requirement that a citizen receive advance permission to purchase a firearm in Maryland.  The court stated a person should be able to purchase a firearm if they feel they are in danger and being forced to wait 30 days or more is unacceptable.  The wait time is exactly what supporters of the HQL policy have lauded as an effective tool in preventing gun violence.  The Governor and the Mayor of Baltimore have expressed displeasure over the ruling, while the gun lobby is celebrating a major victory.  Maryland is one of a dozen or so states that require gun purchasers to pass strict background checks, and this number could be zero within a year if the Supreme Court agrees with this decision out of the Richmond federal court.

The Blog will continue to follow this story as it will generate a ton of attention over the next few months.  The legislature begins its session in January and there are bound to be reactive attempts to keep Maryland a strict gun law state.  Federal courts can intervene when laws are deemed to restrict the Second Amendment, but the courts are generally not able to interfere with the harsh punishments that Maryland provides for gun offenders.  Anyone caught carrying or transporting a firearm without a license in Maryland still faces arrest and potential jail time depending on where the offense took place.  This includes federal property such as the NIH, CMS and the various military bases in Maryland where even state carry permits are not valid.  With respect to state cases, Prince George’s County, Baltimore City and Charles County often attempt to hand down the harshest punishments for gun offenses, but each case is different and there is always a legal argument that can be made in a gun case.  If you or a loved one has been charged with a gun offense contact Maryland criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin specializes in Maryland gun crimes such as wear, transport and carry, possession by a prohibited person, minor in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm at a federal facility.  He is an experienced juvenile gun lawyer and has successfully argued for the dismissal of adult gun charges in state and federal court.  Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598 and learn how you may be able to fight your gun charge.

Published on:

Gun-evidence-box-300x225Montgomery County Police recently arrested a 17-year-old high school student for various firearm offenses after he was found in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun on the public school’s campus.  The student, who lives in Bethesda, was charged with possession of a firearm by a minor, possession of a loaded handgun and possession of a dangerous weapon on school property.  School security was tipped off by a fellow student, who apparently observed an object that looked like a gun in the defendant’s backpack while in the restroom.  Montgomery County police officers confronted the suspect and ultimately performed a search that yielded the handgun.  This all occurred around the same time that police were responding to two false bomb threats that locked other county schools down.  Upon being arrested, the student was taken to the Montgomery County Detention Center and was held without bail.  As a detained juvenile, his bail will likely be reviewed in two weeks if he is still in custody.  In the meantime, he will be held in a secure juvenile facility.   We are unable to track the progress of this case because the judiciary seals all juvenile cases from public view, but depending on his record and his representation, he may have a good chance at eventually facing trial in the juvenile court and avoiding an adult criminal record.

The student was charged as an adult because Maryland juvenile courts do not have original jurisdiction over gun crimes committed by defendants 16 or older.  This includes all firearm offenses from misdemeanor possession of a firearm by a minor to felonies such as armed robbery and possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.  Other crimes that start in adult court include first degree assault, vehicle and boat offenses, robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony sex offenses.  These cases may be transferred to juvenile court upon a motion that must be filed within 30 days.  While a transfer motion is pending a detained juvenile defendant shall be held in a juvenile facility unless there is no space, and the Court finds the juvenile to be a danger.  If the reverse waiver transfer motion is granted, the juvenile will immediately be scheduled for a detention hearing and may be released to his or her parents at that point.

Minors who are charged with gun offenses including misdemeanor unlawful firearm possession can, and often are, held in jail without bail in Maryland, which makes it extremely important to retain an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer.  Judges from certain jurisdictions such as Baltimore City and Prince George’s County are less inclined to release juveniles with firearm charges due to the ongoing gun violence in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro areas.  If your son or daughter has been arrested for a gun offense anywhere in the state, contact Maryland juvenile lawyer Benjamin Herbst 7 days a week for a free consultation.  Benjamin specializes in juvenile gun crimes and represents clients in all jurisdictions from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland.  He has extensive experience representing juveniles charged with minor in possession of a firearm, robbery and first-degree assault.  Benjamin has obtained the release of clients at numerous juvenile bail reviews and has prevailed in reverse waiver hearings for serious felony offenses such as carjacking and armed robbery.  He fights tooth and nail to protect his client’s futures from intake hearing to trial and to make sure they are home with their families and not placed in a state program.  Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598 to discuss the defenses that may be available in your child’s case.

Published on:

Agentes-de-la-DEA1-300x174Anne Arundel County Police recently executed the largest cocaine bust in their history, and now ten adults have been indicted in a drug conspiracy that spanned multiple jurisdictions over the past year.  The investigation picked up steam last summer after multiple alleged drug traffickers were identified by law enforcement.  Police observed dozens of controlled drug transactions, likely through the use of confidential informants, and were also successful in obtaining a warrant for a wiretap.  This information led to the execution of search warrants in Glen Burnie, Severn and Baltimore City that yielded cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, MDMA, marijuana and 21 handguns.  Two of the handguns were reported as stolen and one of the guns was a homemade ghost gun.  Most of the search warrants were executed back in the Summer and Fall of 2022, but the investigation into the source of supply continued until the aforementioned cocaine bust.

Working alongside the DEA, Anne Arundel County officers turned their focus to one individual they believed was supplying the mid-level dealers.  This suspect, a 42-year-old man from Glen Burnie, was allegedly importing large amounts of CDS into Maryland through his shipping business.  Law enforcement ultimately learned that the suspect was hiding illegal drugs within automobiles that were shipped to the state on car carriers.  Back in April police intercepted a vehicle they had probable cause to believe contained CDS, and after searching it found 17 kilograms of cocaine sewn into the seat cushions.  The defendant, who is currently on probation for a drug offense, was arrested on the same day of the drug bust and charged with various felonies by way of statement of charges.  The other defendants were not charged until the indictment became unsealed in June.  It appears that most were issued summonses to appear in court, while the main defendant is still being held at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

The main defendant has been charged with a violation of the Maryland Drug Kingpin law, which provides significantly higher penalties for organizers, supervisors, financers or managers who participate in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute or transport CDS in Maryland.  This offense, criminal law section 5-613, carries a 40-year maximum penalty and a $1,000,000 fine.  The real bite of the law comes in the form of a 20-year mandatory sentence that cannot be suspended.  This mandatory minimum is only surpassed by the mandatory life sentence associated with first degree murder.  The alleged organizer was also charged with CDS importation, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison under criminal law section 5-614 and with CDS possession of a large amount.  Large amount possession still carries a 5-year mandatory sentence for those convicted of possessing more than 448 grams of cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana, 28 grams of heroin or 5 grams of fentanyl.

Published on:

Gun-evidence-box-300x225Deputy Sheriffs recently arrested two Virginia men for gun possession in Saint Mary’s County.  After being booked on the misdemeanor gun charges, the pair were taken before a District Court Commissioner and both were released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.  This type of bondwould only become due in the event of a failure to appear in court.  The arrest occurred after a traffic stop in Lexington Park that was initiated after a Deputy observed an alleged equipment violation.  According to the report, the stopping Deputy immediately noticed a firearm wedged between the passenger seat and the center console upon approaching the vehicle.  After the occupants were ordered out of the vehicle and detained a more thorough probable cause search was performed.  Deputies recovered one .40 caliber Glock handgun with an extended magazine from the aforementioned location by the passenger seat.  Another magazine was recovered in the passenger door compartment, and both the magazine and the Glock were loaded with live rounds.  Police also recovered a .22 caliber handgun in a bookbag on the passenger floorboard.  This gun was unloaded, but the bag also contained two .22 caliber magazines that were loaded with live ammunition.

The 32-year-old driver was charged with one count of handgun in vehicle, which carries a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.  The driver was charged under the same Maryland law that prohibits wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun.  This law, section 4-203 of the weapons crime title, also carries a 30-day mandatory sentence, but the mandatory is seldomly imposed.  In order for the State to even request the mandatory sentence it must file notice on the defense at least 30 days before trial.  Additionally, the judge can circumvent the mandatory sentence by granting probation before judgment, as the mandatory only applies upon conviction.  The passenger of the vehicle was charged with one count of handgun in vehicle for the same firearm as the driver, and another count of loaded handgun in vehicle for the Glock that was recovered within his reach.  Loaded handgun in vehicle carries the same maximum penalty as handgun in vehicle, but could result in more significant penalties for repeat offenders.  In fact, a person convicted of possessing a loaded handgun after having a prior handgun conviction faces a 5-year mandatory sentence.

As a result of the passenger and driver being charged with misdemeanor offenses, it is safe to assume that they have no prior convictions for crimes of violence or felonies.  With these convictions, both would have been classified as prohibited persons, and thus subject to a 5-year mandatory prison sentence under the Maryland Public Safety code.  They also would likely have been held without bail by the District Court judge instead of being granted unsecured bail.  This case brings up a recurring issue that the Blog has been the topic of prior posts.  Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the region, and out-of-state residents from states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Florida often fall victim to these tough laws.  For example, Virginia is an open carry state that allows drivers to transport a gun without a permit as long as they are not prohibited from possessing a gun.  The firearm can be loaded, and the only requirement is that it must be placed in a container or a case such as the glove compartment or center console.  The container does not have to be locked.  While the two individuals arrested in Lexington Park were not in strict compliance with Virginia law because the guns were not stored in a latched container or case, they realistically may have thought their actions were legal.  One would think the passenger would have made an attempt to conceal the handgun from plain view of the Deputy Sheriff if he thought he was breaking the law.

Published on:

pistol-1350484_1280-300x200The House and Senate approved Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 824, and both will almost certainly become law on October 1, 2023.  House Bill 824 did not receive much fanfare, but will further tighten Maryland’s already strict gun laws.  The Bill, which was introduced by a Delegate who also serves as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Anne Arundel County, expands prohibitions on regulated firearm possession under the Public Safety Code.  Starting in the Fall anyone who is one supervised probation for an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 1 year or more in jail will not be able to possess a firearm.  The new prohibition also includes those on probation for DUI or DWI under the §21-902 (a) and (b) of the Transportation Article.  Defendants on probation for violating a protective order would also be prohibited from possessing a regulated firearm.  This provision only applies to individuals who are placed on supervised probation after being convicted, which means that those granted probation before judgment would not be subject to a charge under the Public Safety Code for possessing a firearm while on probation.  It is important to remember that those on supervised probation are typically prohibited from possessing firearms unless a judge specifically allows it.  This is standard condition of probation in Maryland, though a violation would be considered a technical probation violation and not a new offense.  Technical violations of probation carry a presumptive maximum penalty of 15 days in jail, while a violation of this new provision in the Public Safety Code would be a misdemeanor with a 5-year maximum penalty.

House Bill 824 also prohibits a person from obtaining a Maryland wear and carry license if he or she has been convicted of a violation of criminal law section 4-104, which prohibits storing or leaving a loaded firearm in a place where an unsupervised minor could gain access to the firearm, and an injury or death resulted.  If there was no injury the prohibition would only extend to a person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this provision.  Offenders who receive a conviction for child’s access to firearms after October 1, 2023 will have to wait five years from the date of the conviction to apply for a handgun permit.  The bill also raised the permit fee to $125, up from $75.

Senate Bill 1 received most of the media attention, and will likely continue to create news headlines after it becomes law in October.  We wrote about this bill previously, and the version that passed the General Assembly was not substantially altered from our last post.  This law will have major restrictions on where licensed individuals can possess firearms, including prohibiting possession at schools, concerts, sporting events, organized youth and adult sports leagues and state government buildings.  A violation under this new law would result in a misdemeanor that carries up to 90 days in jail for a first offense, and up to 15 months for each violation thereafter.  Firearm possession is already illegal in federal facilities and buildings in Maryland under federal law regardless if a person holds a Maryland concealed carry permit.

Contact Information