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Maryland Gun Cases and Defenses

When trying to understand the allegations you face and the contours of your criminal case, it is important to understand what the government needs to prove in court. First, the prosecutors have to prove that you actually had the gun, so they need to show that the gun was on your person or in your vehicle.

From there, they write up a report that the gun is either registered or unregistered. If it is unregistered then you have a problem. If it’s an antique, that is one of the very few times that a gun is allowed to be in your possession. According to the law, an antique gun is a gun that was made before 1899.

Proving Constructive Possession from Vehicle Searches

Under Maryland law, if you are the driver of a vehicle, it is assumed that you have some form of control of the vehicle. Anything found in the vehicle is going to be the driver’s responsibility. If the gun is in the rear of the vehicle and there is a passenger in the rear of the vehicle, they might assume that individual may have had some element of control over the gun. Constructively, they can still blame the driver. When you drive a car, it is assumed that the vehicle is properly registered, even if it is not yours, and that everything within that vehicle is legal for you to have on the road. You undertake that responsibility.

Proving the Type of Weapon

First, a gun attorney will look at what kind of gun it is because it has to be a gun that qualifies in order to be a chargeable offense. It cannot be an antique; if it is an antique, you cannot be charged. If it is a rifle or a shotgun, it does not have to be registered, but the court does not want it in a vehicle.

There is a list of guns that are included under gun offenses. There are smaller guns, like simple handguns, all the way up to assault pistols or machine guns. Assault pistols that have detachment magazines are absolutely illegal. In a magazine you can hold about 20 rounds of ammunition. That is a misdemeanor charge and the penalty can include up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The Impact of the Location on the Case

The location is also significant. The person cannot be on school property, for example. I also look at whether the person has a license to carry, and whether the gun was legally purchased and registered. I would ask the client what kind of gun it was, where it was when they were stopped, where it was found on their person, how it was found, and what circumstances attracted the police officer’s attention. Maryland is one of the toughest states in the entire country in terms of gun laws and a new law was passed in October 2013 that strengthened the gun laws even more.

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