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Schlaich & Thompson Chartered Bel Air Family, Divorce & Criminal Lawyer

Overview of Maryland Laws Against Destructive Devices


Destructive device laws in Maryland exist under the umbrella of weapon possession crimes. Destructive devices have the potential to inflict severe harm due to the presence of harmful materials or substances. Accordingly, Maryland applies criminal penalties for violations of destructive device laws.

What is the Definition of a Destructive Device?

Maryland Code, Criminal Law Section 4-501 establishes the definition of a destructive device. Under this section, a destructive device refers to explosive material, incendiary material, or toxic material that:

  • Includes a delivery or detonating apparatus capable of distributing the material and causing physical injury or property damage; or
  • Features a modified delivery mechanism that provides the material with the destructive characteristics of military ordinance.

In terms of examples of destructive devices, Section 4-501 specifically includes bombs, pipe bombs, grenades, mines, missiles, shells, poison gas, Molotov cocktails, flamethrowers, and petroleum-soaked ammonium nitrate, although these examples are not exhaustive.

What are the Laws Against Destructive Devices?

Maryland Code, Criminal Law Section 4-503 prohibits the manufacture or possession of destructive devices. Under this section, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly:

  • Possess, use, manufacture, transport, control, store, distribute, or sell a destructive device; or
  • Possess explosive material, incendiary material, or toxic material with the intent to produce a destructive device.

Any person who violates the laws above is guilty of a crime and subject to the criminal penalties described below.

What are the Penalties for Destructive Devices?

Section 4-503 also explains the penalties for violations of destructive device laws in Maryland. Under this section, a violation of destructive device laws is charged as a felony offense. If convicted, the offender can face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and $250,000 in criminal fines.  This sentence may be consecutive to a sentence for using the device.

In addition to the criminal penalties above, violations of Section 4-503 can be subject to significant restitution awards as well. In these cases, a destructive device offender may have to submit payment to:

  • State government agencies for the actual value of costs incurred of searching for the destructive device, removing the destructive device, and repairing any damage from caused by the destructive device; and
  • Property owners or tenants for the actual value of any income, goods, or services lost or damages due to the destructive device in question.

On a related note, the penalties for violating destructive device laws carry additional penalties for those under the age of 18. For these offenders, the punishment may include court ordered driver’s license suspension, generally for a period of six to 12 months. If restitution is imposed the court may order it against the minor, their parents or both.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about destructive devices or other criminal offenses under Maryland law, it can be extremely valuable to reach out to a skilled Bel Air criminal attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in criminal and family law, including destructive devices and many other criminal offenses. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.

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