Use of a Handgun in a Crime

Use of a Handgun in a CrimeThe state gun laws have become increasingly tough over the past couple of decades, and all signs point to even tougher laws in the near future.  The legislature, and especially our governor have taken hardline stances when it comes to possessing and carrying firearms.  Law abiding citizens are often stonewalled by state administrators when trying to gain approval for a concealed carry permit.  In addition, future legislation will require that any gun purchaser submit to mandatory fingerprinting by the state police.  If the weapons laws are this restrictive when crime is not involved, it should come as no surprise that Maryland has some of the toughest criminal gun laws in the country.  Perhaps the toughest of these laws is the statute prohibiting the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime.

Anyone who has driven by the Baltimore City Detention Center on Interstate 83 has passes the large banner that reads “drop the gun or pick a room.”  This banner refers to the mandatory prison sentence that accompanies this handgun law.  Anyone convicted of this crime faces a minimum 5-year department of corrections sentence with a maximum of 20 years.  Surprisingly, this offense is a misdemeanor, but the judge may not waive the minimum mandatory, and a defendant is not eligible for parole in less than 5 years outside of some rare circumstances.  Also keep in mind that this crime is often filed as an additional charge to another crime.  For example, anyone who uses a handgun or antique firearm during the commission of a violent crime can be charged with the actual violent incident, in addition to a separate count for having the gun.  This is often the case with armed robberies, as the defendant typically faces up to 30 years for the robbery, and a minimum 5 to 20 for having the handgun.  Also, for each subsequent violation, the law states the sentence shall be consecutive and not concurrent with any other sentence imposed for the crime of violence of felony.  There is also a mandatory 5-year sentence for anyone convicted of possessing a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime.  This charge often pops up after the execution of a search warrant when police officers find a handgun in close proximity to a large quantity of drugs.  It goes without saying that this charge is extremely serious, and requires a skilled and dedicated defense lawyer who is willing to fight for his client.

There are a variety of different defenses that may be available to you or a loved one who is charged with this offense.  It is not a defense that the gun was not loaded or that it was inoperable at the time of the crime.  We have seen cases filed where the defendant used an antique that was unloaded, and has not been fired in 20 years.  The bottom line is that it if it can be concealed, the state will charge it as a separate crime.  The Herbst Firm is willing to file any and all pre-trial motions, and our criminal lawyers will not hesitate to take the case to a jury.  There is too much at stake to walk into the courtroom without a well-prepared defense, and although we are not allowed to guarantee a specific result, we will always guarantee to put up a fight, and to put in the effort you deserve.  Contact us today to set up a free case evaluation.
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