Articles Posted in Handgun Offenses

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Maryland Criminal Attorney What exactly does it mean to be in “constructive possession” of contraband such as drugs or illegal weapons in Maryland? I was faced with this fairly common legal issue in a case in the District Court for Baltimore County in Catonsville this week. The facts of the case were as follows:

My client was operating a motor vehicle in the Catonsville area of Baltimore County one day this past summer. The police noted in their report that the car caught their attention because the operator was not wearing his seat belt. (I’m sure that the fact that he was a young black male had nothing to do with it). The officer’s turned around and followed the vehicle and made several other observations such as speeding and frequent lane changes. They pulled the vehicle over and identified my client as the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle. My client produced a valid driver’s license as well as the registration which confirmed that the car was registered to his father.
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Maryland Criminal Attorney Baltimore Criminal Attorney Most people are aware that in Maryland a person who has been convicted of a violent crime or a felony may not possess handguns. People seem to be less aware of restrictions involving other weapons such as rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and antique firearms. I have blogged about this in the past and this blog is really intended to discuss possession of other weapons but I think an overview of the law on handgun possession will be helpful to the reader.

First of all, what exactly is the definition of a handgun under Maryland Law? One would think that this would be a relatively straightforward and easy question to answer. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are two separate definitions under two of the three sections of the Maryalnd Code that criminalize handgun and firearm possession. Under Public Safety 5-101(n) a handgun is defined as a firearm with a barrel less than 16 inches. Under this section a handgun includes signal, starter and blank pistols. Under Criminal Law Section 4-201(c) a handgun is defined as a pistol revolver or other firearm capable of being concealed on the person. Under this definition a handgun includes short-barrelled rifles which is defined as a firearm having a barrel less than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches; and shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches. Under this definition a standard rifle, shotgun or any antique firearm is not deemed to be a handgun. Presumably this definition would also include starter pistols since they are included in the definition of a firearm under the Public Safety Article definition, but would not include signal or blank pistols as they are not included in that definition. Very confusing to say the least.
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An experienced Maryland Criminal Attorney must have a thorough understanding of the defense of coercion and duress which is also called a necessity defense. I represented a defendant in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County Maryland today in which I investigated a necessity defense but ultimately concluded that such a defense was not viable under the particular facts of this case. Before going into the facts of my case today, here is a synopsis of the coercion and duress or necessity defense.

It is a defense to all crimes other than the taking of a life of an innocent person that the defendant acted under coercion or duress. The most common defense of this type is self-defense or its cousin, defense of others. It also applies to situtions where a person is coerced into committing a crime by an imminent and impending threat of death or serious bodily injury if the act is not committed. There also must not have been an opportunity to escape. If there was a legitmate opportunity to escape that is not acted upon, then the defense is not available. This is essentially the situation that I was faced with in my case and why I was unable to use the duress and coercion or necessity defense.
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Maryland Criminal Attorney – Maryland Criminal Lawyer – Baltimore Criminal Attorney – Baltimore Criminal Lawyer – I receive questions regularly by clients regarding Maryland handgun possession restrictions by people who have been previously convicted of a crime.

Under Maryland law there are basically two classes of citizens who are disqualified from owning or possessing handguns and subject to criminal penalties if they are convicted of being in possession of a firearm that is classified as a handgun. The first classification deals with person’s who have been convicted of either of a crime of violence or a felony drug charge. The following offenses are classified as crimes of violence in Maryland: Abduction, Arson in the First Degree, Assault in the First of Second Degree, Burglary in the First, Second or Third Degree, Carjacking and Armed Carjacking, Escape in the First Degree, Kidnapping, Voluntary Manslaughter, Murder, Rape in the First or Second Degree, Robbery, Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon, Sexual Offense in the First, Second or Third Degree, Attempts to commit any of these crimes and Assault with the Intent to Commit any of these crimes.
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