Articles Posted in Handgun Offenses

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As an Aggressive and Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, I have handled hundreds of cases involving the illegal possession of regulated firearms by disqualified persons. These are very serious offenses that can carry mandatory 5 year prison sentences depending upon why the person is disqualified. Over the past few years, detectives from the Baltimore County Police have been investigating people who have frequented Continental and Freestate gun ranges to see if the have criminal records that disqualify them from possessing handguns or other regulated firearms.

For those who are unaware, when a person goes to a gun range in Maryland, they are required to fill out a form that asks a number of questions. One of those questions asks if the person has ever been convicted of a crime that carries more than two years of imprisonment. The detectives procure these forms from the gun range and then run criminal background checks on everyone who frequented the range, including those who simply rented firearms as opposed to bringing one in with them. Those who have read my blog over the years know that I have been trying to warn people about these cynical and misguided cases for many years. These investigations are thinly veiled statistic building exercises that do nothing to advance the basic goals of law enforcement. Indeed they are, in my opinion, counterproductive to those goals as they cause people who live in the community that they are supposed to serve to become distrustful of the police and therefore less likely to assist them in legitimate criminal investigations. The police then compound the damage to the relationship between them and the community by these cases by utilizing a so called “ruse” technique to ensnare the targets of their investigation. I was recently retained in one of these cases by a boyfriend and girlfriend who shot at Continental. Here are the facts:
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Most Criminal Attorneys in Baltimore County Maryland are familiar with the so call “gun range cases” that have been charged in Balitmore County for the last several years. These cases are viewed as controversial by many, including the writer, as they tend to look more an effort to build gun prosecution statistics than legitimate efforts by the police to protect the community from gun weilding convicted criminals. As I have described in the past, these are very serious offenses that can in certain circumstances subject the person charged to minimum mandatory 5 year prison terms.

This past week I was able to successfully resolve two serparate matters involving husband and wife co-defendants, one in which the duo were charged in two separate jurisdictions. The facts of the two cases were nearly identical:
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In Baltimore County, the Police are increasingly resorting to investigating and ultimately arresting citizens who simply go to gun ranges such as Continental Arms in Timonium or Freestate in Middle River. As an criminal defense attorney with 20 years of experience, I have represented dozens of people who have been charged in these case, probably more than any other lawyer in Baltimore. These investigations and prosecutions are deeply troubling to me as they are nothing more than a shameless attempt to build up the police statistics for firearms prosecutions and confiscations.

The overwhelming majority of the citizens involved in these cases have only misdemeanor convictions that, more often than not, date back a decade or longer. These folks are hard working, law abiding citizens who generally speaking have no idea that they are in violation of the law by going to a gun range and renting a gun to take target practice. Most believe that if their prior records cause any prohibition at all, it is only on ownership of weapons, not simply shooting one in a controlled environment such as a gun range. To make these investigations even more troublesome and, in my view, counterproductive to the stated goal of law enforcement which is to protect and serve the community, the police utilize “ruse interviews” (everyone else just calls it plain old lying) to entrap their targets into incriminating themselves. It is difficult to believe that the police don’t understand what a corrosive impact the use of scorched earth tactics such as these have on their relationship with the community they purport to serve. I was recently contacted by a Baltimore County couple that were the target of one of these investigations. I think it is a particularly egregious case. Here are the facts:
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https://criminal.mdattorney.com/lawyer-attorney-1709297.htmlAggressive Maryland Criminal Attorneys represent hundreds of individuals in the District and Circuit Courts each year. Perhaps the most important skill that a criminal defense attorney must possess is the ability to evaluate the strength of the State’s case against the defendant. Too often I witness attorneys pleading people guilty in cases where there are strong defenses. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true and all too often I see attorneys taking cases to trial where there is no hope of an acquittal. When this happens defendants are almost invariably sentenced more harshly than they otherwise would have been had their attorney negotiated a plea bargain. This is why it is critically important for any criminal defendant to make sure that the attorney that represents him is a criminal specialist with sufficient experience to know whether to pursue a trial strategy or a plea.

I witnessed this scenario play out in court last week where a defendant charged with armed robbery faced overwhelming evidence of his guilt, including that the entire crime was captured on crystal clear surveillance video. The plea offer was 10 years to serve. For reasons I do not understand, the defendant’s attorney took the case before a Baltimore County Jury that, after deliberating for less than 30 minutes, returned the inevitable guilty verdict. The judge then sentenced the client to 20 years to serve, 10 years longer than he was offered in return for a guilty plea. Sometimes when this occurs it is the result of poor representation by the attorney but sometimes it results from a defendant refusing to accept the advice of his attorney. This case reminded me of one of the most striking examples from my career of a defendant refusing to heed his attorney’s advice. The case took place in Baltimore City Circuit Court a few years ago. Here are the facts:
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I have often written about the perils of hiring unqualified. Perhaps it is due to the current economic conditions, but I am increasingly seeing attorneys whom I know are NOT criminal specialists handling criminal cases, including serious felonies in the Circuit Court. I think that people who are not experienced in dealing with attorneys think that a lawyer is a lawyer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like doctors, many lawyers specialize in various areas of the law including criminal defense. It seems like a pretty obvious point that the lawyer specializes in one area is going to develop more expertise in that area than a so called “general practitioner” who often handle cases in as many as a dozen separate areas of the law.

I have in many instances throughout my career been hired by people who have belatedly figured out that their attorney simply did not know what he or she was doing. Sometimes that realization comes before any real damage has been done and sometime only after. Here is a specific case involving domestic violence and handgun offenses that I took over from another lawyer who was in over his head:
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As an Aggressive Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney I have handled more of these Continental Arms Gun Range Cases that any other attorney that I am aware of. Last week I handled two of theses case in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Both defendants were facing mandatory 5 years prison terms – neither served a day in jail and both received unsupervised probation.

I have blogged about these cases several times in the past noting that in my view, these cases represent the worst in law enforcement and are in many ways counterproductive to main objective of law enforcement which is, of course, to keep the community safe. The reason for my belief that these cases are in fact counterproductive stems from both the simple fact that these cases are prosecuted in the first place, and this fact is compounded by the “scorched earth” tactics utilized by the police to investigate them. More on that later but here are the facts of the cases:
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As Aggressive Maryland Criminal Attorneys, the Criminal Defense Team at STSW represents scores of defendants each year who face Mandatory Sentences that must be served without parole for violating Narcotics and Firearms Laws. I have written about many of these cases in the past as they tend to be among the most difficult cases that criminal defense attorneys confront. A few weeks ago I represented three members of a family who had been charged with Trafficking Narcotics with a Firearm.

In addition to this count, the father was also charged with being a Felon in Possession of a Handgun. Both of these counts carry Minimum Mandatory Penalties of five years in prison without the possibility of parole. Needless to say it was a very serious case. Here are the facts:
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As an Aggressive and Experienced Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney, I have handled thousands of felony narcotics cases including Possession with the Intent to Distribute CDS and Distribution of CDS cases. These cases are serious matters in and of themselves with the potential of serious incarceration for a defendant. These cases become exponentially more serious when handguns and/or other firearms are seized along with the drugs.

Narcotics trafficking with firearms charges subject a defendant to an additional 20 year jail term on top of any sentence for the Felony CDS charges. More importantly, these charges carry a MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE of five years in prison without the possibility of parole. In most instances, prosecutors reserve these charges for the worst and most violent offenders. Occasionally however, a prosecutor pursues these charges against defendants who don’t appear to fall into that category. I successfully defended a case in Baltimore County Circuit Court last week in which narcotics trafficking with firearms charges were pursued against 3 defendants who most certainly did not represent the worst of the worst violent drug dealers. At least that is my opinion. I found the decision to pursue a “five no parole count” against these defendants troubling to say the least, but I became even more troubled when I learned the details of how the police came to suspect these men as well as the nature and extent of the investigation into them. Here are the facts (as always I will be somewhat vague where necessary to protect my client’s anonymity and privacy).
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Aggressive Baltimore County Maryland Criminal Lawyers like us handle cases involving illegal handgun possession on a regular basis. Handgun crimes are prioritized by Baltimore County Police and prosecutors, particularly cases involving possession of a handguns by convicted felons, the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence and cases involving the possession of a handgun while engaging in the trafficking of narcotics. Each of these offenses is a very serious crime carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of five years without the possibility of parole and maximum sentences of up to 20 years for the latter two offenses.

I have blogged about the tactics of the police in pursuing handgun cases in the past. Detectives in the firearms unit have for some time checked the criminal records of people purchasing weapons or ammunition at stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and K-Mart to see if they are convicted felons or otherwise prohibited from owning or possession handguns. In recent weeks I have been hired by two people in cases that reveal a new tactic my the police.
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As A Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney/Lawyer I represent many people charged with either handgun offenses or violations of the State’s narcotics aka controlled dangerous substance laws. More often than not, so long as the defendant does not have an extensive criminal history, these matters can be resolved without the defendant having to serve much or any time in prison, even assuming that the State can prove the case. However, when a person gets charged with possession of firearms and felony narcotics offenses at the same time, things get a lot trickier.

This is because under Maryland Law and Federal Law there are minimum mandatory sentences that must be served without the possibility of parole associated with trafficking narcotics with a firearm – even for first offenders. Perhaps more surprisingly, these laws apply to the possession of any firearm and not simply handguns or regulated firearms such as assault weapons. So while a convicted felon may be in possession of a shotgun without violating Maryland Law (shotgun possession by a convicted felon is a violation of Federal Law) a person with no record who is caught trafficking narcotics with a shotgun would be in violation of these laws and face the mandatory penalties just the same as if he were caught with a handgun or an assault weapon; and the penalty is a stiff one indeed. Any person in Maryland who is convicted of trafficking narcotics with a firearm faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison but the real meat in the statute is that the convicted defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without the possibility of parole. I currently represent a person who finds himself in this exact predicament. I will explain the facts and then get into what exactly the State must prove to convict my client or any other similarly situated defendant of this charge.
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