Firearm Possession By A Disqualified Person

Most people with a basic understanding of criminal law are well aware that a convicted felon cannot legally possess or own any type of firearm under state and federal law.  Unfortunately few people realize that in Maryland you can be prohibited from owning or possessing a gun for far more reasons than being a convicted felon.  It is for this reason that hundreds of people are prosecuted each year under public safety code violations regarding regulated firearms, shotguns and rifles.  In order to avoid prosecution under these harsh laws it is important for all gun owners to be familiar with the Maryland gun laws.  If you have already been charged with a gun violation call criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst to discuss how you can possibly have your case dismissed, reduced, or how you can keep your record clean and avoid spending any time in jail.

Title 5 of the Maryland public safety code addresses the laws regarding all firearms, but in general guns are divided into two categories.  There are regulated firearms, which include handguns and numerous types of tactical weapons, and there are rifles and shotguns.  The maximum punishment under the most common laws are the same, despite the fact that these two types of firearms are separated within the public safety code.  There are basically two main violations for illegal possession of a firearm.  The most serious is possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime of violence or by a person convicted of a number of different drug felonies.  This offense is a felony and carries a 15-year maximum penalty, with the first 5 being without parole unless the prior offense occurred (and the sentence was completed) more than 5 years ago.  A crime of violence includes offenses such as robbery, burglary in the first, second or third degree (felony burglary), assault in the first or second degree, arson, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder and any felony sexual offense.  The common drug felonies under this statute include narcotics distribution and possession with intent to distribute.  Anyone who has been pled guilty to a felony crime of violence is prohibited from possessing a gun even if they received probation before judgment.  Additionally, receiving a probation before judgment for domestic second degree assault counts as a conviction for the purposes of this statute.  Remember that misdemeanor second-degree assault is a crime of violence under the public safety code, and anyone convicted of this offense may not possess a firearm.

The less serious version of the public safety laws prohibiting firearm possession applies to people who have been convicted of certain misdemeanors, and those that are fugitives.  This law also applies to those suffering from drug addiction and mental health disorders, though this portion of the law is rarely charged.  Public safety code 5-133 and 5-205 state that a person who is convicted of a disqualifying crime is prohibited from possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun, and few people realize just how many offenses fall under this category.  Under Maryland law any offense that carries more that a 2-year maximum penalty is considered a disqualifying offense.  This means that misdemeanors such as reckless endangerment, wear transport or carry of a firearm, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and all felonies that are not considered violent crimes or drug offenses are disqualifying crimes.  A violation under this provision is a misdemeanor with a 3-year maximum penalty, and each firearm could result in a separate charge.  If you have been charged or are being investigated for any gun charge or illegal possession of ammunition charge under the public safety code it is important to not talk to the police, and to call a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible for a consultation.  Benjamin Herbst has handled hundreds of gun offenses such as possession of a firearm by a disqualified person, and is available anytime to offer advice at 410-207-2598
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