You have been charged with Wearing, Carrying or Transporting a handgun illegally in Maryland, what should you do, and how should you handle it? What are the consequences and potential penalties?
Title 4, Annotated Code of Maryland, prohibits weapon crimes and defines a handgun as having the following characteristics:
- i. ” A pistol, revolver, or other firearms capable of being concealed on the person,
- ii. Including a short-barreled shotgun and short-barreled rifle,
- iii. A handgun does not include a shotgun, rifle, or antique firearm.”.
Section 4–203, of that same title, prohibits a person from, “wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, whether concealed or open, in a vehicle traveling on a road or parking lot generally used by the public, highway, waterway or airway of the State”. Further, subparagraph 4 of that same section, states that a person may not wear, carry or transport a handgun, “with the deliberate purpose of injuring or killing another person.”.
One of the strongest tools the states attorney’s office has in prosecuting these crimes is the fact that 4–203, states that there is a “rebuttable presumption that a person who transports a handgun… transports the handgun knowingly“. In other words, the Court will presume that the person knowingly had the handgun purposely. Most people don’t understand that this presumption plays a huge part in determining the outcome of most cases regarding the possession of handguns.
For example, if you are driving from your home state of Virginia or Carolina and you have a license in one of those states to transport or carry a handgun, that license does not obviously permit you to do so in Maryland. On many occasions I’ve seen individuals who simply forget that they have the weapon in the vehicle and travel into Maryland, not realizing that the handgun is even in the vehicle. The root presumption of knowledge puts the burden on the defendant to show that it was a complete mistake, which is not easy to do many times.
Another example is the type the case we see all the time at the Baltimore Washington International Airport where many people simply forget that they have a handgun in the suitcase coming from a state that allows that to occur. Obviously you cannot carry a handgun on a plane at any time, but many times people forget that they have a handgun in their luggage and they get caught at the airport gate.
Maryland takes a very harsh position on violation of this statute in most circumstances. Although, a conviction of the statute is considered a misdemeanor the penalties can be high. In some circumstances, a mandatory 5 years in prison is required. Although the statute does allow some flexibility with no jail time, a person charged with a gun charge in Maryland must cautiously navigate their case through the court system. Failure to do so, could result in drastic catastrophic results.