With some exceptions for self-defense, Maryland law prohibits the use of dangerous weapons, including mace and pepper spray. If you use mace or pepper spray on another individual for purposes other than self-defense, you may be charged with serious weapons crimes, exposing you to a risk of prison time, heavy fines, probation, and other penalties.
When the stakes are so high, it is imperative to protect yourself by hiring a tested defense attorney for unlawful possession of pepper spray, mace, and other dangerous weapons in Maryland. To set up a free legal consultation with a Baltimore pepper spray lawyer, contact the Rice, Murtha & Psoras online, or call (410) 694-7291. Our line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to take your call and provide assistance.
What is Pepper Spray?
Numerous companies sell products that are loosely labeled as “mace” or “pepper spray” despite containing concentrations of varying strength and potency. In Maryland, the law defines pepper spray – also referred to as “pepper mace” or “oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray” – to include any “aerosol propelled combination of highly disabling irritant pepper-based products,” creating a broad classification. This definition of pepper spray is established by Maryland Criminal Law Section 4-101(a)(3).
Is it Legal to Carry Mace or Pepper Spray in Maryland?
Maryland law broadly prohibits individuals from carrying or using certain dangerous weapons, such as knives or brass knuckles, with the intent to harm another individual. Mace or pepper spray is classified as a dangerous weapon and may therefore be prohibited, depending on the circumstances under which it is allegedly used.
The law makes certain exceptions where it is legal to carry and use mace or pepper spray in Baltimore, which may provide a valid defense in your case. For example, the law permits the use of mace or pepper spray in self-defense situations, such as warding off an attacker. A jury will look at the evidence to determine whether the defendant acted reasonably and in self-defense – or with intent to injure another individual.
There are also exceptions for certain types of professionals, who may need to carry mace or pepper spray as part of their job duties. For example, Maryland’s dangerous weapons law allows police officers and other officers of the state to carry pepper spray or other weapons, in addition to railroad agents.
It is also important to note the wording of Maryland Criminal Law Section 4-101, which specifies that, under Section 4-101(c)(2), it is illegal to “carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly.” In other words, it may be permissible to carry pepper spray or mace concealed in one’s purse or bag.
Keep in mind that special restrictions apply to minors in accordance with Section 4-101(c)(3)(ii), which states, “A minor may not carry a dangerous weapon between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise, whether concealed or not,” unless the minor is either:
- On a hunting trip
- Participating in, or traveling to or from, “a bona fide trap shoot, sport shooting event, or any organized civic or military activity”
What Are the Penalties for Carrying or Using Pepper Spray or Mace?
Unless a self-defense exception or other legal exceptions apply, it is a crime to carry dangerous weapons, including mace and pepper spray, with the intent to harm another person. If you are convicted of this offense, you may face serious criminal penalties, including jail time and costly fines, along with possible probation and other consequences.
The penalties for wearing or carrying a dangerous weapon are outlined at Section 4-101(d). Under Section 4-101(d)(1), this offense is a misdemeanor, but carries a longer maximum sentence than most misdemeanors: up to three years. In addition to or in place of the sentence, the court may also order you to pay a criminal fine of up to $1,000. You may also be required to pay victim restitution, such as compensation to help with the victim’s medical bills. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged attack, you may also find yourself facing assault charges or related allegations, potentially adding to the penalties you face.
Baltimore Defense Attorney for Mace and Pepper Spray Weapons Charges
If you or one of your family members was arrested for allegedly assaulting another person with pepper spray or mace, you should contact an experienced Baltimore weapons lawyer right away for guidance. There may be various legal defenses that apply in your case, and with strategic handling, it could be possible to reduce or avoid penalties, potentially even having the case dismissed. However, it is crucial to act quickly and obtain counsel as soon as possible. To set up a free legal consultation regarding weapons charges in Baltimore, contact the Rice, Murtha & Psoras online, or call (410) 694-7291 for 24-hour assistance.