What Constitutes a Gun Crime in D.C. & Maryland?
The laws governing firearms in D.C. remain some of the strictest in the country. People are not allowed to carry guns in their cars, carry guns on their person, or have guns in connection with a variety of activities. In D.C., possession of a gun while committing another offense can add mandatory jail time to the penalties for the underlying offense.
However, a recent Supreme Court decision has placed the gun laws in D.C. in flux. The Supreme Court recently overturned the ‘carrying of a pistol without a license’ charge. This decision may mean changes are to come for the gun laws in Washington D.C. But, until chose changes come, a person still cannot carry, own, or possess a gun in the D.C. area.
If someone is caught violating a D.C. gun law, they can be prosecuted either in Superior Court for the District of Columbia or in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In District Court, the federal sentencing guidelines will apply, and the following factors may be taken into account:
- Additional charges, especially whether narcotics charges are also involved
- Prior felonies, including prior handgun possession charges
In Maryland, it is possible to own and possess, in your home and in your place of business, a gun that is lawfully registered – without criminal liability. However, there are exceptions. These include:
- Those previously convicted of a felony
- Those who have violated civil protection orders
- Those who have been the subject of a civil restraining order
What are Gun Crime Penalties in Washington D.C. & Maryland?
Firearm penalties in D.C. vary depending on the type of crime. If the gun crime is a misdemeanor conviction for simple possession of an unregistered firearm, the maximum is one year in jail. If it is possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, they both carry a one year maximum jail sentence.
For first offenders charged with carrying a pistol without a license, there is a maximum five year prison sentence. For second offenders, it is ten years.
If the person has previously been convicted of a felony, there is a mandatory minimum penalty of one year in jail unless the previous felony was a violent crime. In that case, the mandatory minimum is three years in jail.
In Maryland, a first offender convicted of carrying a handgun is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces a maximum potential term of incarceration of 3 years. The offense of using a firearm in connection with another crime carries a mandatory minimum term of 5 years incarceration and a maximum term of 20 years incarceration.
Using a Gun in Self Defense
Self-defense is a complete defense to any gun crime provided that the gun was possessed only as long as necessary to defend oneself.
Options for Those Charged with a Gun Crime
If you have been charged with a gun crime, your first step should be to contact a defense attorney. You need to ensure your rights are protected and that you achieve the best possible outcome for your specific situation.
In D.C., being arrested on gun crime charges often results in the government seeking pre-trial detention. This means that the arrestee is held for three days pending a hearing. At the hearing, your defense attorney will argue for the conditions of your release.
In D.C. Superior Court, it is sometimes possible to enter into a diversion agreement to dispose of the gun charges without a conviction. It is also possible to negotiate a felony gun charge down to a misdemeanor in order to maximize the possibility of a probationary sentence.
In Maryland, it is possible to get gun charges placed on the “Stet Docket.” This means that the offender must complete agreed upon conditions. When they are successfully completed, the charges will be dismissed.
Lotze Mosley’s Attorneys Experience with Handling Gun Crimes
Our firm has tried hundreds of cases involving gun possession and/or use in D.C. Superior Court, D.C. District Court, and Maryland State Court. Many of these criminal defense cases have ended in acquittals. Others have resulted in successful plea negotiations where our clients received reduced sentences. Call us today for help with your gun crime accusation (202) 393-0535.