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Articles Posted in Gun Crimes

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Gun-evidence-box-300x225One Baltimore man was sentenced and another recently pleaded guilty to the federal charge of illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone.  Both cases were prosecuted at the Baltimore City federal courthouse, and both defendants were originally chaeged in state court before the feds took over.  The first defendant, a 22-year-old man, was arrested back in March of 2021 for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and firearm charges.  Law enforcement including the DEA recovered multiple firearms and upwards of 6 kilograms of fentanyl from a Pikesville stash house that was tied to the defendant.  The defendant’s case was transferred from the District Court to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, but then was dismissed after the feds decided to prosecute.  There is rarely one specific reason why the feds choose to pick up a state case, but when a defendant is arrested in the city with a combination of fentanyl and firearms its certainly going to attract their attention.  Federal prosecutors have been focusing on fentanyl cases in the Baltimore and D.C. metro areas over the last couple of years, and had already been heavily involved in prosecuting illegal firearm possession.  Any time both are present there is a good chance the case will be picked up by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  In this particular case the young man received a 9-year federal prison sentence for illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, which means he will likely serve close to 8 years behind bars. There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system, so early release can only be granted based on the defendant’s conduct and the availability of re-entry programs.

Shortly after the first defendant was sentenced, another Baltimore man pleaded guilty to the sole charge of illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone.  This defendant, a 31-year-old man, was apparently riding around the city on his bicycle with a construction hat, orange safety vest and a loaded .40 caliber handgun sticking out of his waistband.  A call for a potentially armed man was made to Baltimore Police, who were able to locate the suspect on city watch CCTV cameras a short time later.  Officers then stopped the suspect for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, which is violates a city ordinance.  The man then allegedly tried to flee but was found a short time later knocking on the door of a random house.  Upon detaining the suspect, police located the .40 handgun, which had an obliterated serial number and 15 rounds of ammunition.  The suspect then uttered several spontaneous statements claiming ownership of the firearm.  This case could easily have been prosecuted by the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, but the feds likely picked up the case due to the defendant’s proximity to a school upon his arrest.  The Gun Fee School Zones Act of 1990 made it a federal crime to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, and despite being modified several times over the last few decades, the law is still very much intact.  Violation of this provision is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison, which is significantly harsher than the 3-year penalty for wear, transport or carry a firearm under Maryland law.  The defendant in this case negotiated a plea deal to serve two years in prison, so he is likely not a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The Blog will continue to follow all noteworthy drug and gun cases in Maryland, and will post on federal prosecution of traditional state charges.  If you or a loved one is facing adult or juvenile criminal charges contact Maryland gun lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598.  Benjamin specializes in charges involving possession with intent to distribute CDS such as heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and marijuana.  He also has extensive experience defending clients facing probation violations and gun charges such as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm in a federal facility.  Contact Benjamin today to learn what defenses may be available in your state or federal case.  Benjamin is also licensed to practice in Florida, where he has successfully defended clients in numerous offenses such as drug trafficking, carrying a concealed firearm and aggravated assault.

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handcuffs-2102488__480-300x169In October of 1971 an off-duty Montgomery County Police Captain was shot while working as a security guard.  Law enforcement arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, but the officer succumbed to his injuries three days after being shot.  Numerous suspects were interviewed, but no arrests were made and the case had remained cold for decades.  Last October marked the 50th anniversary of the homicide, and police detectives decided to take a fresh look at the case in hopes that a new set of eyes could finally bring justice to the family of the fallen officer.  After reviewing the voluminous files and hours of recordings, the detectives honed in on a then 19-year-old witness who had given a statement to police shortly after the shooting, but had never been labeled as a suspect.  A recording of this witness’ interview with police was sent to the FBI where technicians were able to convert the old tape into a digital format.  The digital recording was clear enough for detectives to determine that the witness knew more about the incident than was possible- unless he was involved in the shooting.  This witness also had a criminal record, lived near the scene of the crime and subsequently changed his name.  Detectives then spent weeks trying to track the witness down, and finally located him living and allegedly quiet life in Upstate New York.

Montgomery County homicide detectives traveled to New York to attempt to interview the witness, and left with a confession to the 51-year-old shooting.  The witness turned defendant, who is now 70 years old, apparently admitted to detectives that he was committing a burglary in the area, when the off-duty police captain intervened as he was attempting to flee in a getaway vehicle.  The defendant claimed the shooting was accidental, but nonetheless detectives immediately applied for an arrest warrant for first-degree murder.  An arrest warrant was issued that same day, and the defendant was taken into custody in New York.  He was officially served with the warrant upon arrival at the Montgomery County Detention Center one week later.  He was denied bail by a District Court Commissioner at his initial appearance, and again by a District Court Judge at his bail review.  A preliminary hearing is set for this Friday, but the defendant will almost certainly be charged in the Circuit Court.

This case brings up a host of interesting legal issues.  One involves the statute of limitations, which under Maryland law varies greatly depending on the crime.  Almost all felonies including murder, first-degree assault and robbery have no statute of limitations, and the state could prosecute at any time.  Many misdemeanors have a 1-year statute of limitations, but there is no limit if the crime is punishable by a prison sentence.  In Maryland a prison sentence is a year and a day or more, so any crime with a maximum penalty of 18 months or higher can be charged at any time.  This means common misdemeanor crimes such as second-degree assault and fourth degree burglary have no statute of limitations in Maryland.  There are several crimes that carry two and three-year limitations such as manslaughter by vehicle, tax offenses, election law violations and Medicaid fraud that carry a 3-year limit.  Crimes charged under the Natural Resources Article and fraudulent driver’s license crimes carry a 2-year limitation.

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holster-648014__480-300x206In an opinion that was hardly a surprise, the Supreme Court recently struck down a New York law that required citizens to prove a good reason why they should be able to carry a firearm outside of the home.  This case was of particular interest here due to the fact that the Maryland concealed carry permit law is almost indistinguishable to the New York law.  The Maryland State Police has long since required citizens to provide a good and substantial reason why they should be granted a concealed carry permit (officially known as a Handgun Wear and Carry Permit).  This clause is located in the Public Safety Code of the Maryland statutes under Title 5, which governs firearms.  Section 5-306 requires proof of a good and substantial reason to protect against apprehended danger, and typically only been satisfied by those whose occupations place them in reasonable fear for their life when outside of their home.  Certain business owners who carried large amounts of cash, or who operated in high crime areas had been some of the few who qualified for this permit.  The MSP has taken the official stance that they want all qualified individuals to be licensed to carry, but the good and substantial reason requirement still left many out in the cold when it came to permits.

Over the last month the tide has drastically shifted, as soon after the Supreme Court opinion was released the Maryland Governor and the Attorney General directed the State Police to immediately suspend the good and substantial reason requirement.  Currently applicants must only state their reason for the permit is for personal protection, and are not required to provide any sort of documentation to this effect.  The Supreme Court decision and subsequent change to the permit application has not gone unnoticed, and it seems that prospective applicants have been waiting on this news for some time.  From mid-June to mid-July of 2021 the MSP received roughly 1,000 Handgun Wear and Carry Permit applications.  During that same timeframe this year there have been over 7,000.   This number will likely continue to rise dramatically over the rest of the year, with one of the only holdups being the availability of licensed instructors.  Almost all civilian applicants are still required to possess and HQL and complete 16 hours of firearm training.  Instructors are booked solid, and handguns are in short supply at Maryland gun shops.  Still, the supply will eventually catch up and applications will continue to soar this year before eventually leveling off.

While the good and substantial reason requirement has been eliminated, applicants still face strict background checks.  Anyone with a prior criminal conviction or even a protective order faces the possibility of being denied.  Maryland law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of a crime that carries more than 1 year in jail from obtaining a concealed carry permit.  It does not matter if the applicant never actually served a day in jail, as the maximum penalty is the only relevant factor.  Dozens of non-violent misdemeanors carry more than 1 year in jail in Maryland.  An applicant with no prior criminal record could still be denied a permit if he or she has exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger.  This is where protective order or peace order findings could come into play and result in a denial of a conceal carry permit.

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police-224426__180Yesterday the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced the guilty plea of a 25-year-old Baltimore man who committed a robbery while on supervised release for another federal crime.  According to facts presented in the guilty plea, back in January of this year the defendant attempted to rob a convenience store in Baltimore City.  The store clerk refused to comply with the defendant’s demand for money, whereupon the defendant displayed a gun from within his waistband.  Off-duty Maryland State Police officers responded to the scene shortly after the store manager called 911, and were joined by Baltimore City police officers minutes later.  The defendant was detained by law enforcement officers, and search incident to arrest revealed a loaded 9mm handgun in the defendant’s waistband.  Security cameras inside the store captured the entire incident on video, making the guilty plea the only reasonable choice for the defendant.

The 25-year-old defendant now faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the federal robbery charge, which is codified as attempting to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery.  Robberies are generally prosecuted in state court, but the federal government can obtain jurisdiction over virtually any commercial robbery committed in the U.S.  This most commonly plays out for bank robbery cases due to the fact that banks are insured by the FDIC, and also gun stores that are licensed to do business by the federal government with a FFL (federal firearms license).  But the Commerce Clause allows the feds to obtain jurisdiction over other business that have a potential customer base from multiple states.  The question is whether it’s possible – not likely that a local convenience store in Baltimore City is frequented by individuals from across the country.

Sentencing for the defendant in the federal robbery charge is set for September of this year, though he also must answer for the violation of supervised release.  Supervised release is the federal term for probation, as there is virtually no difference between the two.  Supervised release simply occurs after a defendant has been released from a term of incarceration.  The federal justice system no longer uses suspended sentences; rather when a defendant violates probation or supervised released, he or she could face up the maximum remaining prison sentence upon a guilty finding of a violation.  For example, a defendant sentenced to 5 years on a robbery charge could face up to 15 years upon if found in violation of supervised release.  In Maryland state court, most judges impose suspended sentences to cap the amount of time that could be imposed in a violation of probation, but some judges simply suspend the maximum and decide an appropriate sentence should the defendant violate.  Any defendant who receives a probation before judgement (PBJ) faces the maximum penalty upon a violation of probation.  There are exceptions including whether the violation is considered non-technical or technical.  In Maryland state court, technical violations have a presumptive non-binding cap of 15 days for a first violation.  Technical violations include positive drug tests, failing to complete treatment or failing to pay restitution.  Non-technical violations include missing more than one probation appointment and/or committing a new offense.  Many defendants believe new arrests are the only non-technical violations but this is not true, as it is just as common for defendants accused of absconding to receive some or all of their back up time.

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police-378255_960_720-300x212The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland recently announced that a 37-year-old man from Waldorf has been indicted on federal charges of false impersonation of an officer and employee of the United States and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Federal prosecutors also announced the man’s co-conspirator, a 40-year-old woman from Baltimore, was charged with impersonating and officer and conspiracy to impersonate a federal officer.  The male defendant was held without bail, while the female was released on pre-trial supervision.  According to court documents and statements presented at the initial appearance, the charges stemmed from an incident that occurred back in March at a Prince George’s County restaurant.  The male defendant was working as a security guard for the restaurant with his pet dog when he allegedly attempted to detain two individuals who disputed a bill.  At some point PG County police officers became involved and questioned the defendant regarding the firearm that was on his person.  The defendant justified his possession of said firearm by stating that he was a Deputy United States Marshal, though the officers were not so easily convinced, and arrested him for illegal possession of a regulated firearm and wear, carry or transport of a handgun.  He was originally charged in state court, but the Feds picked up the case due to the fact that he impersonated a federal law enforcement officer.

The plot thickened when the female co-defendant arrived on scene as the male was being taken into custody by Prince George’s County Police.  The female allegedly showed up in full law enforcement garb, complete with tactical pants, handcuffs, a radio, an expandable baton and a handgun.  According to court documents she claimed the dog was her emotional support animal and questioned why the police were arresting a U.S. Marshal.  Her pleas were not met by much sympathy, as the male was taken to jail and the dog was impounded by animal services.  For some reason the female was not arrested by county police officers at the scene, and a short time later she made her way to animal services, once again in full police garb.  The female showed up in a police style vehicle and a black bulletproof vest, and identified herself as a U.S. Marshal to animal services employees.  She apparently presented an identification card with U.S. Marshal’s insignia, which was convincing enough for animal services to release the dog to her custody.

Based on the evidence presented in the initial appearance, it seems federal prosecutors have ample evidence to sustain convictions for false impersonation, which is a felony with a 3-year maximum penalty.  Federal agents also executed a search warrant upon the male defendant’s home, and seized firearms including an AR style rifle and a pump action shotgun.  As a result of his prior criminal record, the male defendant faces up to 10 years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm.  The female does not appear to have been charged with any firearm related offenses, but her alleged possession of a handgun will certainly be taken into consideration at a potential sentencing hearing.  In federal court especially, the judges focus on the statement of facts in its entirety and not simply the charge or charges that are part of the plea.  Judges in Maryland do not take unlawful possession of a firearm lightly regardless of whether the defendant has a prior criminal record.  It is interesting to note that the female could not have faced firearm charges in federal court because she did not possess the gun on federal property.  Federal law only prohibits firearm possession at a federal facility or possession by convicted felons or other disqualified individuals.  Further, the police did not actually arrest the female on scene, so there would have been no way to prove the handgun she possessed was actually a firearm.

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pistol-1350484_1280-300x200Back in February law enforcement officers from the St. Mary’s County Sherriff’s Office began investigating the buying and selling of firearms to minors, and at some point if became clear to officers that the target of their investigation was barely an adult himself.  Police honed in on a then 18-year-old from Lexington Park, and their investigation led to a search warrant that was executed 4 days before the suspect turned 19.  According to reports a search of the teenager’s home produced multiple regulated firearms, ammunition and parts to manufacture a rifle.  It is unclear whether the suspect was at home during the execution of the warrant, but he was not arrested until two weeks after the search and seizure.  The young defendant is now being held at the St. Mary’s County Detention Center in Leonardtown after bail was denied by the commissioner and then a district court judge.  He is currently facing four misdemeanor charges including possession of a firearm by a minor, sale of ammo to a minor and two counts of illegal sale of a regulated firearm.  Trial is currently set in the District Court of Maryland for St. Mary’s County in roughly two weeks.  The Blog will follow this case and may post a follow-up article in the near future.  The rest of this post will provide a small refresher for some of the most common gun laws in Maryland.

This defendant is facing charges under the Maryland Public Safety Code, which contains the majority of the state’s most serious gun laws, including possession of a firearm by a person under 21 years old.  While wear, transport carry violations under 4-203 of the Maryland Criminal Law article remains the most common gun offense in the state, public safety code violations account for a much larger number of jail sentences.  The Maryland public safety code provides harsh punishments for defendants who have criminal records, and in some cases, defendants can face a five-year mandatory prison sentence without the possibility of parole.  Misdemeanor public safety code violations also result in higher guideline scores in cases that are handled in the Maryland circuit courts.

The main public safety law regarding the possession of regulated firearms is found in section 5-133.  A person who has been convicted of a disqualifying crime faces up to five years in prison if found to be in possession of a firearm, but the charge remains a misdemeanor much like the wear, carry transport statute.  Disqualifying crimes include all felonies and misdemeanors that carry more than a 2-year maximum penalty.  It does not matter if the defendant actually served jail time on the prior disqualifying crime, as the only thing that matters is the statutory maximum.  Prohibited individuals also cannot possess ammunition Maryland, and doing so could result in a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.  Disqualifying crimes also include violent crimes, but possession of a firearm by a person with a violent crime in their record faces a felony charge and up to 15 years in prison.  If less than 5 years has passed since the defendant finished his or her sentence (including probation) on the violent crime the minimum mandatory will apply.  Violent crimes include assault in the first or second degree, robbery, sexual offenses, felony burglary (first, second or third degree burglary), arson, attempted murder and several other offenses.  A defendant in possession of a gun will also face the 15-year felony and potentially the 5-year mandatory of he or she has been convicted of a drug felony such as possession with intent to distribute.  It is important to understand that probation before judgment or PBJ counts as a conviction for any of these offenses except second degree assault.  The one exception is that PBJ for a domestically related conviction counts as a conviction for a crime of violence, though once the case is expunged it will not count as a conviction.

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pills_money-300x199Back in February of 2020 a 33-year-old man from Waldorf was found guilty of several drug and firearms offenses in the Greenbelt federal courthouse.  It took more than two years for the case to go to sentencing, and the wait did not turn out to be in the defendant’s favor, as he was sentenced to 40 years of incarceration.  The lengthy sentence was handed down yesterday for charges including distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of firearm by a convicted felon.  The charges stemmed from incidents that occurred back in 2017, which included two drug deals that resulted in the overdose deaths.  The government was able to establish sufficient evidence to prove the charges through text messages, phone records, surveillance video and live testimony from multiple witnesses who purchased narcotics from the defendant.  A few months after the two overdose deaths law enforcement was able to secure a search warrant for the defendant’s Waldorf apartment.  The defendant was arrested on the day of the search and seizure in April of 2018, and has been held in custody without bail since that time.

Upon execution of the search warrant law enforcement recovered five firearms including a loaded .45 caliber handgun that was found in a backpack next to 121 individually packaged baggies of fentanyl.  These facts supported the jury’s guilty verdict for the charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, which is a commonly charged offense in Maryland state courts as well as federal courts.  The government was also able to establish that the defendant had prior felony convictions that prohibited him from possessing firearms.  Police also seized over 200 grams of heroin/fentanyl mix, 40 grams of cocaine, 12 cell phones, $22,000 in cash, digital scales, money counters and jewelry including a Rolex and diamonds.  All of these factors tended in prove that the defendant was involved in a large-scale narcotics distribution operation in Southern Maryland, but the 40-year sentence was undoubtedly due to the two overdose deaths that the jury felt were caused by the defendant.

A few months after the defendant’s trial his co-defendant from St. Mary’s County was sentenced to 12.5 years in federal prison for distribution of fentanyl.  As part of the plea the co-defendant admitted his distribution led to the overdose deaths of same two individuals, though he did not actually plead guilty to the offense of distribution resulting in death.  It is likely that the co-defendant cooperated with law enforcement in exchange for his relatively lenient sentence, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release did not directly say that he was called as a witness during the main defendant’s trial.

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1249005_glock_29_replica_1-1-300x168There was significant movement last week in highly publicized state measures to curb the circulation of unserialized firearms commonly known as ghost guns.  Both the House and Senate preliminarily approved legislation that would eventually ban the sale and ownership of the untraceable firearms in Maryland.  These untraceable guns have been a major point of contention for police and law makers alike, and have undoubtedly contributed to an increased number of gun crimes over the past couple of years.  The gun components are often made of polymer or other materials that are easy to fashion yet strong enough to withstand the explosion of a cartridge being fired, and are relatively cheap.  Basically, anyone with internet access and a Venmo account could order the components to make a working firearm in a matter of hours.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that a state like Maryland that already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country is making serious moves to eliminate untraceable firearms.

Ghost guns are generally defined as firearms that lack an identifiable serial number and are manufactured privately or in the home.  The parts are typically purchased in kits or created at home using 3D printers, thought the kits are more common these days.  Federal law does not prohibit private individuals from manufacturing their own firearms for personal use, but does place firm restrictions on the manufacture of firearms for sale or distribution.  Gun parts manufacturers that sell these kits are able to skirt federal restrictions by only selling parts that are considered unfinished.  The difference between a finished and unfinished gun receiver (the part that joins the firing components) is a fine line in which the manufacturers are fully versed.  They intentionally sell receivers that are less than 80% finished and require some basic machining, for which they provide the drill bits and instructions.  Obtaining ammunition is still a task that presents a challenge for those prohibited from possessing firearms, but ammo is cheap and small, and thus easy to purchase or obtain unofficially.

After a bit of back and forth over the last couple of months it seems the General Assembly has settled on a timeframe for implementing the ghost gun ban, and also prospective punishments for those who violate.  First, the prohibition will not become law until March 1, 2023 at the earliest.  Second, the punishments for violating the ghost gun laws have been slightly reduced to a maximum of two years in jail for possession and a maximum five years in jail for sale or distribution.  Both of these offenses would be misdemeanors, thought a defendant may still be charged with additional applicable felonies such as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.  There may also be a provision in the law that requires the State to prove an element of knowledge.  In other words, it may be a defense if the person charged did not reasonably know the firearm was a ghost gun.  Under potential ghost gun laws, the State Police would be tasked with establishing databases for ghost guns and tracking serial numbers to make sure there are no duplicates.
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money-943782_960_720-300x225The U.S. Attorney’s office recently announced that a 31-year-old Montgomery County man has been arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, distribution of controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  A criminal complaint was filed against the defendant on March 4, 2022 and he was arrested on March 7.  The Germantown man was ordered to be held without bail at his detention hearing in the Greenbelt federal courthouse two days after his arrest.  According to the sworn affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the defendant was identified as a suspected narcotics and firearms dealer.  In February of this year the defendant sold guns and drugs to an undercover law enforcement officer three times in Montgomery County.  The sales allegedly included more than 45 grams of crack cocaine, gel caps containing heroin and fentanyl and numerous firearms including multiple ghost guns.  The term ghost gun is used to describe any privately made firearm that does not have a serial number and cannot be individually identified or traced.  These weapons have become a point of focus for law enforcement over the last few years, and will continue to be a major issue for state and federal legislators.

In addition to the three alleged sales in February, the defendant and the undercover law enforcement officer also met a fourth time.  During this meeting the defendant allegedly sold the cop three fully assembled Glock style handguns for a total of $3,000.  The sale was observed by additional law enforcement surveillance units, and memorialized by several calls and text messages.  In addition to the four meetings, the defendant also apparently admitted to the undercover officer that he could not legally purchase a firearm due to a previous felony conviction.  The defendant faces up to 10 years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm and up to 20 years for distribution of controlled substances.  He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  This federal offense is almost identical to the Maryland state law that prohibits the possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.  The government is not required to prove that the firearm was actually used or brandished during the drug trafficking crime.  Rather, all that is required is for the government to prove a nexus or connection between the gun and the drugs.  Courts have consistently held that drug dealers possess firearms to protect themselves against theft and robbery, which makes it difficult for the defense to argue that the guns and drugs are not related.  A drug trafficking crime includes all felony drug charges such as possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing and distribution. Despite the use of the term trafficking, there is no requirement that the government prove the defendant was a volume dealer or drug kingpin for this law to apply.

The Blog will continue to follow this case and many other federal gun and drug prosecutions.  We may post a follow up article on this case depending on the outcome so stay tuned.  If you or a loved one has been charged or is being investigated by the ATF, FBI, DEA or any other federal or state law enforcement agency contact Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes in drug crimes and weapons charges, and is available 7 days a week to explain what defenses may be available in your case.  He handles charges including wear transport or carry of a handgun and illegal possession of a regulated firearm, and practices in all state and federal courts in Maryland.  Benjamin can be reached at 410-207-2598 and is also licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.

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bullet-408636_640-300x200A 26-year-old Washington D.C. man has been charged with attempted 2nd degree murder and related firearms offenses after shooting at police officers during a foot chase.  The incident began at an Olney indoor swimming center, when employees called the police to report a suspicious individual on the property.  The Maryland National Capital Park Police responded to the scene to investigate, but the suspect had already left the area.  Police officers eventually caught up to the suspect’s vehicle, but he fled when police attempted to initiate a traffic stop.  Park Police officers declined to initiate a high-speed chase, but continued to canvass the area to locate the suspect’s vehicle.  A short time later the suspect’s vehicle was in fact located, though the suspect had fled on foot after his car was involved in an accident.  Police found the suspect in a residential neighborhood within minutes, but before they were able to place him into custody, he allegedly fired one shot at officers in pursuit.  Thankfully, the bullet struck an empty parked car and nobody was injured.  The suspect was then taken into custody and then booked into the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville.  He was charged with attempted 2nd degree murder, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and use of a firearm in a crime of violence for shooting at the officers.  Additionally, he was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and loaded handgun in vehicle, and is being held without bail.

The defendant was already on probation in Montgomery County after he pleaded guilty to robbery almost two years ago.  This guilty finding is the reason he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.  In that case he was sentenced to 18 months in jail with an additional 6.5 years of suspended time, which will now be on the table when he appears for a violation of probation.  This could explain why the defendant was so motivated to avoid being captured by police.  In reality, his decision to fire at the police officers will likely far outweigh any possible punishment for the violation of probation.  The defendant also has three new additional criminal cases that will also likely take a back seat to the attempted murder.  He has two theft and credit card fraud cases out of Montgomery County, as well as an additional armed robbery case from Prince George’s County for an alleged incident that occurred just three weeks ago.  It is safe to say that the defendant will be held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility until a trial or a plea is scheduled, with the only exception being the potential that he is charged in federal court for his actions.

The Blog will continue to follow this case and may post a follow up article in the future.  It does not seem likely that this case will end up going to trial, as the evidence of guilt appears to be significant.  It may be in the best interest of the defense to attempt to organize some sort of global plea agreement on the shooting case that includes the violation of probation and the new theft charges.  A speedy plea agreement may prevent the matter from being picked up by the feds, though the Prince George’s County armed robbery may prove to be an obstacle.  The defendant’s guidelines will likely end up being either 7-13 years or 10-15 years on the attempted murder, which all things considered could be much worse.  Any plea offer would almost certainly include a charge for felon in possession of a firearm or use of a firearm in a crime of violence.  In shooting cases the state typically requires this charge to assure that the first five years of the sentence are served without the possibility of parole.  Regardless, the defendant would only be eligible for parole after serving at least 50 percent of the sentence, as the charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault are considered crimes of violence.

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