Every week I receive a call from a client asking me if he or she is allowed to possess a firearm in Maryland based on their criminal record. Both the State of Maryland and the Federal Government have laws that preclude individuals from possessing a firearm based on past transgressions. In this article, we’re only going to address the Maryland law.
Maryland Public Safety Statute §5-133 prohibits the possession of a regulated firearm. The statute says that a person may not possess a regulated firearm if the person: 1) has been convicted of a disqualifying crime; 2) has been convicted of a violation classified as a common law crime and received a term of imprisonment of more than 2 years; and 7 other less common conditions that pertain to drug addiction, alcohol use, mental disorder, confinement in a facility for health issues, a respondent in a civil ex-parte proceeding, and under 30 and adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court.
A regulated firearm in Maryland is a handgun or any of the 45 listed assault weapons. So what is a disqualifying crime? Maryland statue defines a disqualifying crime as a crime of violence; a violation classified as a felony in the State of Maryland; and violation classified as a misdemeanor in Maryland that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years incarceration. This can be confusing to most people because they may have been convicted but did not receive any jail time. Even if you don’t go to jail, you still may be precluded from possessing a regulated firearm. Some of the more common crimes of violence from the list of 17 include; arson in the first degree; any assault; burglary in the first, second, or third degree, murder, robbery, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and rape.
The State can charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor for possessing a regulated firearm. The felony penalty if convicted of possession by a person convicted of a crime of violence will be subjected to imprisonment for not less than 5 years. What that means is if you are convicted then you are not eligible for parole until you serve 5 years of the sentence. If you are convicted of the misdemeanor then you could face up to 5 years incarceration and or a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 or both.
If you have been convicted of a crime, it doesn’t matter how long ago it occurred. You could be facing a substantial period of incarceration if you possess a regulated firearm in Maryland.