Weapon Possession On School Property

Maryland gun laws are extremely tough compared to other states in the country and more specifically the Mid Atlantic.  Neighboring states such as Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and even Pennsylvania have far more lenient laws governing possession and ownership of firearms.  Out of state residents, often those with concealed carry permits, are frequently arrested in Maryland for transporting their guns in their cars.  Police officers are aware of these unsuspecting out of staters, and aggressively inquire about the presence of firearms during traffic stops.  Stopped drivers are faced with the difficult decision whether to cooperate and hope to be released without charges, or to exercise their constitutional rights and stand pat.  It typically becomes a no win situation, especially when dealing with officers who are eager to impress their superiors with a firearms arrest.

As if the wear, transport and carry laws were not tough enough, lawmakers have also enacted various legislation aimed at punishing those caught with weapons on the grounds of a public school or institution of higher learning.  These laws are similar to those increasing the potential punishment for possession or distribution of controlled dangerous substances on school property.  When these arrests occur on public school property the defendants are often juveniles that are students at the school.  A violation of this law could result in a misdemeanor conviction and a jail sentence of up to 3 years under criminal law section 4-102.  There are also other possible punishments to consider such as expulsion from school.  The statute specifically prohibits the possession of firearms, knives or other deadly weapons on school property.  Guns and knives are the most common deadly weapons, but not the only ones prohibited.  The statute is broad and allows the finder of fact to determine if a particular type of weapon should qualify for the ban.

While less common, the statute also applies to public institutions of higher learning, which are generally colleges and universities with graduate programs.  This side of the law is the source of a great deal of controversy because the defendants can be adults with no criminal record or criminal intent.  Out of state students possessing or transporting a weapon for personal protection can find themselves in an extremely frightening situation, especially considering that possession of a firearm on a college or university campus is currently classified as a felony.  Lawmakers have expressed an interest in changing this law from a felony to a civil citation punishable by a $1,000 fine but any changes would not go into effect for several months.

If you or a loved one has been charged with weapon possession on school property contact a criminal defense lawyer at The Herbst Firm immediately for a free consultation.  Benjamin Herbst has represented numerous clients charged with firearms offenses in Maryland, and additionally specializes in representing out of state residents that unknowingly have been the victim of overly harsh local gun laws.  Benjamin is available 24 hours a day to discuss your case, and he will do whatever it takes to produce the results you need to move on with your life.
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