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Is It A Gun Crime To Possess An Assault Weapon In Maryland?

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Within the arena of gun crimes in Maryland, there are special provisions in place to address assault weapons. From a general standpoint, assault weapons tend to have large magazines and the ability to fire quickly, whether in semiautomatic or automatic fashion. These weapons were likely designed for combat and, thus, are extremely deadly. As a result, Maryland has strict laws against and penalties for assault weapon crimes.

How Does Maryland Define Assault Weapons?

Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-301 defines what qualifies as an assault weapon under state law. Under this section, the term assault weapon refers to any:

  • Assault long gun, such as an AR-15 or an AK-47;
  • Assault pistol, such as a Skorpion or an Uzi; and
  • Copycat weapon.

In that vein, Section 4-301 defines a copycat weapon as any:

  • Semiautomatic centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine and has a folding stock, grenade or flare launcher, folding stock, or flash suppressor (any two);
  • Semiautomatic centerfire rifle with a fixed magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds;
  • Semiautomatic centerfire rifle that is less than 29 inches long;
  • Semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds;
  • Semiautomatic shotgun with a folding stock; or
  • Shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

What are the Maryland Laws Against Assault Weapons?

Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-303 details the state laws against assault weapons. Outside of narrowly construed exceptions, Maryland prohibits any person from:

  • Transporting an assault weapon into the State;
  • Purchasing, possessing, or receiving an assault weapon; or
  • Selling, offering to sell, or transferring an assault weapon.

How Does Maryland Punish Assault Weapon Crimes?

Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-306 explains the punishment for assault weapon gun crimes under state law. There are effectively two different penalty structures for assault weapon crimes.

At a threshold level, it is a misdemeanor offense to violate Section 4-306 by transporting, possessing, or selling an assault weapon in Maryland. Upon conviction, the penalties can include imprisonment for 36 months and criminal fines up to $5,000.

If an assault weapon was used in a felony or a violent crime, however, there is a different penalty under Section 4-306. In these cases, the offense remains a misdemeanor. But the punishment increases in severity, as outlined below:

  • First Offense – The offender is subject to criminal fines and imprisonment for five to 20 years, without the possibility of parole for at least five years; or
  • Second or Subsequent Offense – The offender is subject to criminal fines and imprisonment for 10 to 20 years, without the possibility of parole for at least 10 years.

In addition, any person who uses an assault weapon in a felony or a violent crime is also subject to the criminal penalties for the underlying offense. In other words, these offenders face double punishment – one sentence for the felony or violent crime and another sentence for the assault weapon offense.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal assistance with charges for a gun crime in Maryland, reach out to our office. The Bel Air gun crimes lawyers at Schlaich & Thompson Chartered are prepared to help you today.

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