Prosecuting Maryland Gun Cases

The Maryland legal system has a complex system for prosecuting Maryland gun cases. The state takes gun-related crimes seriously and could pursue any allegation to the fullest extent of the law. If you are facing gun crime allegations, you may need the assistance of a Maryland gun lawyer while building your defense. An experienced attorney could help you avoid any legal penalties or any damage to your reputation and career that a gun charge might bring,

Where Could a Case be Prosecuted?

In Maryland, there are courts of first impression, and there is the district court and the circuit court.

District Courts

The district court typically handle less serious infractions for criminal cases and trials are always heard in front of a judge; there are no juries in district court.

If there was a gun found in a vehicle with six other people and the state establishes possession or believes that only one person was actually involved in the possession of the weapon, the other five people might be initially charged and the case could be brought in the district court. In this scenario, when the state decides to prosecute the single person, that person’s case could be transferred to the circuit court to face indictment while the other five cases may be dismissed.

Circuit Courts

The circuit court is for more serious offenses and trials may be heard before a judge or a jury. In regards to prosecuting gun cases in Maryland, most cases are prosecuted in circuit court. Some of the less severe gun charges such as unlawful possession of a firearm or failure to register – those offenses may be heard in district court – could overlap for some defenses, and so those gun charges may be heard in district court.

More serious gun charges such as assault with a dangerous weapon, even possession of a prohibited dangerous weapon, may typically begin in circuit court usually through an indictment. Even cases that are first heard or charged in district court such as unlawful possession of a firearm could be transferred to circuit court where one is able to be prosecuted if the state decides to prosecute.

Understanding the First Court Date

Gun charges could lead to serious consequences since even the most basic fundamental gun charges may carry a mandatory minimum period of jail time and up to several years of incarceration. The prosecuting of gun cases in Maryland has several steps an accused person may need to prepare for.

The First Case

The very first court date in a gun case would typically not be a trial, and the judge could ascertain the status of the case. The prosecution could make the decision or declare on the record there is a question about whether or not they may go forward with the case and prosecute it.

Preliminary Hearings

Depending on the type of charge and whether the person was arrested or whether they were issued a summons, that first court date could be a preliminary hearing. The state could then be required to show that there is probable cause to move forward with the felony charges. An accused or the accused’s attorney may have an opportunity at the hearing to cross-examine the state’s witness. These probable cause hearings almost always result in the judge finding probable cause.

Standard of Proof

The standard of proof is a preponderance of evidence which means the state could show it is more likely than not that the offense occurred, and that the accused committed the offense. The state may not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that person is guilty. If a person is heading to court for probable cause at a preliminary hearing, they may need to know that the case is not going to be resolved, and the judge might frequently issue a verdict of guilty or not guilty at the end of the hearing.

If the person is not in custody or they are on the streets, their status would not typically change even if the judge finds probable cause. If someone is walking into the courtroom, they could be walking out of the courtroom at the end of the hearing even if the judge does find that there is probable cause for the case to proceed.

While being prosecuted for Maryland gun cases may leave an accused person feeling intimidated and overwhelmed, help may be available through a Maryland gun lawyer. Contact an attorney to get started on building your defense.