Although gun control has been a very visible priority for both policymakers and the media, there has also been a push for the regulation of non-lethal weapons like stun guns and Tasers in recent years. These weapons are also sometimes referred to as “electronic control devices” – essentially, any weapon that uses electric current to injure or incapacitate. These devices have restrictions that can vary by city and state, though they are largely legal under Maryland law. Still, there are circumstances where owning or carrying one of these devices could land you in trouble with the law.
Because of the relatively obscure nature of the laws surrounding these devices, Baltimore residents will likely have questions about their rights on the issue. With more than a decade of experience fighting for clients, the team at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can address any concerns you might have and guide you through any legal issues that may arise from unlawful possession of a taser. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 or visit us online to set up your free consultation.
Maryland Laws on Possession of a Taser or Stun Gun
The somewhat less dangerous nature of Tasers – at least, compared to traditional firearms – makes them a reasonable alternative to more deadly weapons, but they still face some restrictions from the state. These regulations are enforced through criminal background checks on anyone who seeks to buy an electronic control device.
The first restriction is certainly the most predictable: you cannot possess a Taser or stun gun in Maryland unless you are 18 or older. You are also barred from owning one if you have ever been convicted of a violent crime or certain drug-related crimes. Unlawful possession of one of these devices is typically considered a misdemeanor – unless they are used to commit a violent crime, in which case you could be charged with a felony.
Regulations on Possession of a Taser in Baltimore, MD
Until 2017, three areas – Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties – had banned possession of electronic control devices. A Supreme Court decision, however, forced a reversal when it was ruled that stun guns are included in a person’s right to defend themselves. Citizens of Baltimore are not required to apply for any type of permit to own one of these devices. However, there are limitations on who is allowed to own or carry one of these weapons within city limits.
Naturally, all state-based restrictions apply in Baltimore, plus a few others. In Baltimore, you may not possess a Taser or stun gun if you:
- Suffer from a mental illness that causes you to be a danger to yourself or others; or
- Are subject to either a temporary or final protective order; or
- Have been ruled mentally incompetent by a court.
It is also illegal to have a Taser or stun gun in certain places. Public schools, for instance, are off-limits to Tasers, as are public buildings at both the state and city levels of government. Possessing an electronic control device in violation of any of these provisions is considered a misdemeanor that could result in fines of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.
Possession of a Dangerous Weapon in Baltimore
The state of Maryland maintains laws concerning possession of a “dangerous weapon,” a term which generally does not refer to Tasers, but which could, in certain circumstances. Examples of devices that are legally considered dangerous weapons include mace, pepper spray, switchblades, or brass knuckles.
Because electronic control devices are not specifically mentioned in the law, the issue of whether Tasers and similar weapons fall into the category of “dangerous weapon” depends on how the weapon was used. A judge or jury could find that it fell under the category of a dangerous weapon if it was used on a target or victim with intent to cause unlawful harm, which could lead to additional charges.
Under certain circumstances, however, citizens are permitted to carry a weapon, even one ruled dangerous under the law. The most notable situation in which this is allowed is for the purpose of self-defense in the face of a reasonable expectation of danger. If you have a specific reason to fear for your safety, you may be able to exonerate yourself in court on those grounds. As with all legal issues, retaining the services of a knowledgeable legal representative can help ensure that you present a strong defense in the face of Taser possession charges.
Attorney Defending Against Taser Possession Charges in Baltimore, Maryland
Whether you were accused of possessing a Taser, stun gun, or any other type of electronic control device, know that you may be in a position to refute those charges. The team at Rice, Murtha & Psoras, former assistant state’s attorney, are ready and willing to mount a strong defense on your behalf. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 or visit us online to set up your free consultation.