Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Maryland
If a person is facing charges for unlawful possession of a firearm in Maryland, it is important to understand the legal definition of a firearm. A firearm is considered any weapon that can expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. There are regulated firearms in Maryland. Regulated firearms mean a handgun and then different types of weapons that have been classified as assault weapons. There are firearms that are shotguns or rifles that are not nearly as regulated as other types of firearms such as handguns and automatic weapons. The penalty depends on the violation that is being alleged.
If you are facing unlawful possession charges, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable gun lawyer. They can assist you in building a defense for these crimes.
In Maryland, people can be disqualified from possessing any sort of firearm. A person would be prohibited from possessing a regulated firearm if they are under 21 or if they have certain mental health disorders which will disqualify someone from being able to possess a regulated firearm, and they can be prohibited if they have been convicted of what is called a disqualifying crime.
Disqualifying crime includes any crime of violence, it includes anything that has been classified as a felony in the State of Maryland and it also includes any misdemeanor that carries a statutory penalty of more than two years. There are a lot of misdemeanors in Maryland that have a maximum statutory penalty that is greater than two years, and so a conviction for that can mean that that person will not ever be able to possess a regulated firearm again. There are mandatory minimum penalties and the maximum penalty is five years in jail.
Common Scenarios of Unlawful Possession
There are a couple of different ways an individual can be found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm in Maryland. If they are possessing a regulated firearm in Maryland and they were previously convicted of a disqualifying crime, then they could be found guilty of unlawful possession. If a person has ever been convicted before of a crime of violence or a felony or of a misdemeanor that carries a statutory maximum of more than two years, then they cannot lawfully possess a regulated firearm.
Substance Users and Habitual Drunkards
Someone who meets the definition of a habitual drunkard or a habitual user may be disqualified from owning a firearm in Maryland. A habitual user is a person who has been found guilty of two controlled dangerous substance crimes, one of which has taken place in the past five years. If someone has a record for possession of drugs, potentially, they could be defined as a habitual user and it would be illegal for them to possess a firearm.
Someone who is a habitual drunkard is someone who has been found guilty of either a DUI or a DWI in Maryland and one of them has occurred in at least the past year. Basically, the law aims to make sure people avoid having possession of firearms if they are struggling with alcohol or addiction issues and might make impulsive or poor decisions meanwhile under the influence. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess a regulated firearm.
Role of Protective Orders
If a person is following all the rules and is legally possessing a firearm, but they become the subject of a protective order, they will need to give up or relinquish all regulated firearms. When a person is the subject of a protective order, it means that they are under investigation for assault. They will have to turn in their regulated firearms to a law enforcement agency. They cannot possess a regulated firearm while there is a protective order in place.
Consequences of Unlawful Possession
There are penalties and consequences for unlawful possession. If the unlawful possession is the result of the defendant being under 21, then the maximum penalty for that is not much. One of the most serious penalties is the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm by someone who was previously convicted of a crime of violence. The law makes it clear that a person who has previously been convicted of a crime of violence cannot possess a regulated firearm.
The maximum penalty for unlawful possession is a felony which is 15 years and a minimum mandatory of 5 years. That means that the person will receive at least a five-year sentence and that five years cannot be suspended. That person is not eligible for parole. They will actually do, day-for-day, a five-year, sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm in Maryland.