Six Defenses for a Wear/Carry Handgun Charge in Maryland

In Maryland, to wear, carry or transport a handgun is a criminal misdemeanor under Criminal Law Section 4-203. A conviction can result in ineligibility to own a gun, a criminal record, or even jail time. There are numerous exceptions to the rule, and many defenses that can be made.

Here are six of the most common defenses to the handgun statute:

1. Illegal Search and/or Seizure by the Police
An experienced defense attorney will always check the legality of any stop or seizure by the police. If the handgun is on a person, in a car, house, or anywhere else where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, then there could also be an unconstitutional search. The police need reasonable suspicion to conduct any limited stop/frisk and must have probable cause for any full-blown search or arrest. If the gun was in a car, what was the basis of the traffic stop? Was the person detained longer than necessary? Why did the police conduct a search? Did the police have a warrant to search the home, or are they attempting to justify it by another reason? The possibilities for a defense here are numerous.

2. Transportation Exception to the Statute

Was the handgun being transported back from the shooting range in a lawful manner? Was the person in route to a business from home? There could be an exception allowing the person to lawfully transport the handgun in these situations. Of course, in these cases the handgun still must be unloaded and placed in a case or holster. Also, providing documentation is crucial for a defense such as this–receipts from the shooting range or repair shop, lease showing residence, etc.

3. Person on Personal Property with Handgun
Was the person on his or her property (including the front porch/steps of a house, for example)? At a house that he rents? At a business that she owns and operates? If so, the person can lawfully carry the handgun regardless of whether it is loaded, in a case, or in a holster.

4. Lawful Handgun Permit

The person may be law enforcement, military, or have a carry permit for another reason. In this case, the person can lawfully carry the handgun according to the what is permissible under the permit.

5. Not an Actual Handgun
If the gun is a rifle, shotgun, or antique firearm, then it would not be a handgun as defined in this criminal statute.

6. Handgun is Not Operable
If the gun incapable of being test fired, then it would also not fall under this statute as a handgun. The handgun must qualify as a firearm capable of properly operating. Part of the evidence required by the prosecution is to show that it is a properly operating firearm, which is usually done so by having a police officer test fire and document the results.

There are other defenses, of course, but these are probably the most common and likely to come up. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your wear, carry, or transport a handgun case, contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Peretti any time at 301-875-3472. As always, consultations are complimentary.

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