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Maryland Criminal Defense Blog

Gun laws vary: Defend yourself against these potential charges

Gun control is an important part of keeping people safe. Each state in the United States has its own handgun possession laws, which apply to various situations differently. For instance, your state could restrict those with mental health conditions from owning a gun, or it may not have any laws restricting gun purchases at all. Some states don't allow minors to have guns until they're 21, and others allow them at 18. These differences can make it difficult to know where you can carry your weapon, and that could lead to accidental criminal charges that you have to fight.

Under federal laws, most states restrict gun access to those over 18, and those who have received felonies may not be allowed to own one. Certain mental health conditions may also lead to a person being disallowed from owning a gun.

Federal crimes: Avoid serious punishments at the federal level

In Maryland, if you're accused of a federal crime, you need to understand that the weight of punishments is typically heavier than if you were tried in a state court for a misdemeanor or state-recognized felony. Generally speaking, if you face federal sentencing, your case will call for longer sentences in jail or prison and potentially higher fines.

As a person who wants to avoid any unnecessary penalties, knowing that simply being tried at a different level could result in more serious punishments is frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways you can help yourself and hopefully reduce the sentence you might receive.

What are some common Internet crimes?

When you think of Internet crimes, do you immediately think of Napster and illegal downloads? Maybe you think of The Pirate Bay, where a lot of illegal downloads were made before it was shut down. While these are the things people tend to consider, the truth is that there are many other Internet crimes taking place, including the following:

1. Blackmail.

Council member's son placed on probation for violent outburst

There are some cases when you can be accused of crimes for situations that seem minor at the time but that can also come back to haunt you later. Seemingly innocent comments or arguments with an employee or worker at a business could end up resulting in assault or other charges that you then have to deal with in court.

Making threats can sometimes be enough to get you in trouble with the law. Freedom of speech only goes so far, and when you become violent or threatening, the police are able to charge you with a crime. In cases like this one, those charges can lead to probation or other penalties.

Facebook threats dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court

Social media websites are great places to vent your frustrations and to communicate with friends. The things you post do reflect on you, though, and sometimes the things you say can be taken out of context. When this happens, you could be accused of being threatening or harassing, even though you weren't attempting to be.

This is what happened in a case reported on June 1. According to the story, a man was allegedly threatening his wife and others. The case recently went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was found that there should be limits to convictions based on Facebook posts, because even if someone sees a post as a threat, that doesn't mean the person is responsible for threatening behavior.

Defend yourself against theft accusations in Maryland

If you're accused of a theft, then you know that you could be facing charges that may place you in jail. The kinds of fines and jail time you could face depend on the value of the items you stole, if people were injured and other various considerations.

Any theft conviction can damage your reputation, making it harder to get jobs. Few employers want to work with someone accused of stealing, especially if it was in the form of fraud or stealing from the company itself. Whether you've been accused of identity theft, credit card theft, employee theft, trespassing or other crimes, it's important to have a defense in place to protect you against unlawful charges and accusations.

Purging a criminal record isn't easy, even for misdemeanors

You've been stopped for a minor drug possession charge or maybe a DUI. If you're convicted, you could be given a misdemeanor on your record and sentenced according to the laws for the state. Is a misdemeanor really that big of a deal after your sentence is served? Will it really have an effect on your life? The short answer to these questions is yes, and here's why.

Although you may not go to jail over a misdemeanor, this doesn't mean you won't have repercussions in your daily life. Your permanent record will show your misdemeanor, making it possible for potential employers to see the misdemeanor and to question your potential as an employee. Interestingly, misdemeanors have the same kind of collateral consequences as a felony would.

Is sexting a friend illegal if you are a minor?

Internet crimes come in many forms, but in reality, not all Internet crimes actually take place online. One common internet crime that comes up in court is called sexting. Sexting is essentially texting involving sexual topics and descriptions. Sexting can be the transmission of nude photos, suggestive materials or image-based items. Sexting can be completely text-based, but it doesn't have to be.

Sexting, when between consenting adults, isn't anything the courts worry about. The problem comes when images of minors or individuals who don't want their images on the Internet or a text message are used. If a minor sends a sexual image through a text, it can even be seen as child pornography.

Get your bail lowered or reduced in Maryland

When you're facing time in jail due to a felony or misdemeanor, there's a chance you'll have a bail amount set for your case. If you can't meet the bail cost, then you'll have to wait in jail until the day of your hearing or trial. If you can pay the bail, then you can typically go home and wait for your case to come up in court.

Typically, you'll go through a hearing where your bail will be set. If your bail is not approved, you could be stuck in jail until trial; fortunately, you can fight back against a denied bail judgment.

Understand your misdemeanor in Maryland

Misdemeanor cases vary, and the punishments for misdemeanors do, too. With recent riots in Maryland, understanding what a misdemeanor is and how you know if you've been charged is important. Depending on the type of offense claimed against you, there could be as little as a fine as a penalty or as much as a prison sentence. Typically, a misdemeanor's penalties are less than felonies, although not always.

Generally speaking, misdemeanors are violations that break the law but don't cause serious harm or major damage. So, for instance, a robbery where no one got hurt could be considered a misdemeanor, but a bank robbery where someone was shot would be considered to be a felony.