When People Make ‘Dumb’ Mistakes

He might be smart, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make honest mistakes like the rest of us. As Brian Doherty writes for Reason, a smart high school honors student made what some people might call a “dumb” mistake, by showing up to school in the morning with a shotgun in his pickup truck.

He’d been skeet shooting the day before with a friend and it appears as though he simply forgot the shotgun was there. Rather than drive back home (and be late for school) the honors student simply went inside and called his mother from the principal’s office, presumably to have her come get the shotgun.

But school officials overheard the conversation. One thing led to another, and before you know it, this student’s “dumb” mistake became felony weapons charges.

Now, is that fair? Does that make sense? School officials are standing behind a wall of “the law is the law,” yet at the same time, the school’s zero-tolerance policy takes an honest (or “dumb” mistake, depending on your viewpoint), and puts a young person’s future in jeopardy.

As Doherty points out, the student has (or had?) a college scholarship. Now that he’s been charged with a weapons-related felony, all because he tried to do the right thing in correcting a mistake, that scholarship could be yanked away.

Source: Forgetful Skeet Shooting Honors Student Expelled from High School, Facing Felony Weapons Charges

16-year-old Maryland resident charged as adult in sneaker theft

Here in Maryland, charging a minor as an adult has always been a somewhat controversial issue. On the one hand, some people believe that the minor’s maturity makes him or her an adequate candidate for an adult sentence. Others, however, claim that minors should not be sentenced to punishments that were designed for adults, except in very rare and specific situations.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always clear whether a suspect should be charged as an adult or as a child. Whether it’s assault, sex crime, weapons charges or any other offense, the issue is often left to the best judgment of the courts. Often, one of the roles of a defense attorney is to represent the interests of the accused minor in this situation, to see that he or she is tried in juvenile court rather than face harsher punishments in the adult system.

These are issues faced by a Maryland teenager who was recently accused of armed robbery. The 16-year-old boy, along with an 18-year-old friend, apparently negotiated the purchase of a pair of sneakers using Facebook messages. The pair went to go buy the sneakers from the seller at a predetermined location.

Police say that when the pair met the sneaker seller, they took the shoes and ran. The seller gave chase, but stopped when one of the teenagers allegedly pointed a gun at him.

Police say they used Facebook to locate the two teenagers. Both were arrested and charged with armed robbery. Though the 16-year-old is still a minor, authorities say he is to be charged as an adult. As such, his name has already been released to the public through several media sources.


WJZ-TV, “2 Teens Arrested After Using Facebook To Set Up An Armed Robbery” Ron Matz, Nov. 28, 2013

Pair arrested on weapons charges for bomb, firearm possession

A man facing weapons charges in connection with incidents in Maryland and North Carolina has now been accused of similar violations in Pennsylvania. Federal prosecutors allege that the man, age 43, was arrested on weapons charges after he allegedly was found in possession of an unregistered firearm. Further, the man is accused of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a known fugitive, among other accusations. This is at least the fourth time that the man has been indicted on federal charges.

The man could face 20 years’ prison time and a half-million dollar fine if convicted of the crimes. He would also be subject to three years’ time on supervised release and several other penalties.

In addition, a 32-year-old man was charged after being apprehended with the older man. He is facing accusations of possessing unregistered firearms and manufacturing and dealing explosive materials. The younger man is also accused of conspiracy to obstruct justice. That man could receive a 60-year prison sentence, along with a fine of $1 million and a three-year supervised release term.

Authorities say that the charges were related to an incident in February 2013 in which about 60 pipe bombs and several improvised explosive devices were found at a public storage unit in East Whiteland. Those explosives were destroyed by local professionals. The explosives were apparently discovered after the older man was arrested for evading after allegedly attempting to flee officers who were trying to pull him over. An investigation in that matter led to information about the storage locker. The older man was on supervised release in connection with other crimes when he was taken into custody for the weapons charges. The man had been on supervised release after he was taken into custody on federal charges in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme.

These men have been charged with federal crimes, which differ in nature from state allegations. A qualified defense attorney can help such defendants learn about the differences between federal and state allegations, providing them with the information they need to make decisions in their criminal defense case.

Source:  Daily Local, “Two county men stockpiled arms, Feds say” Michael N. Price, Jan. 31, 2014

Man arrested on weapons charge after gun incident at airport

A man is facing weapons charges after he allegedly attempted to take a firearm through a security checkpoint at a Maryland airport. The man is accused of attempting to pass through the checkpoint with a .380 Smith & Wesson handgun, along with 36 rounds of ammunition. The items were discovered in the man’s items as they were scanned by a checkpoint X-ray on March 1. The defendant has been arrested on a state weapons charge.

It is not clear whether the defendant is still in custody. He was originally destined for Atlanta, according to his ticket. Authorities say an investigation is still ongoing into the matter, and news reports have not given a reason for the man’s decision to attempt to pass through the checkpoint with the gun.

Government officials say that passengers are always considered directly responsible for the items that are found in their packed bags. Transportation authorities say it is wise to double-check your bags before entering the airport. Even though this man may not have intended a threat of violence, a gun was still found in his bag.

Even though someone may not be charged with use of a weapon in such a case, defendants can still face serious charges for attempting to bring a weapon onto a plane. Firearms and ammunition are never permitted in carry-on bags for the general public, but they can be safely transported in checked baggage if owners follow certain rules. Those who attempt to pass a firearm through a checkpoint may face criminal charges even if they did not have nefarious intentions.

Criminal defendants who are facing state or federal weapons charges may benefit from the assistance of a Maryland defense attorney. These professionals may be able to explain the regulations surrounding air travel and guns. A defense attorney may be a valuable asset in a Maryland courtroom.

Source:  WBAL TV 11, “TSA: Traveler tries to pass BWI security with gun” Saliqa Khan, Mar. 04, 2014

Man facing weapons charges for attack on homeless

A man from Edgewood, Maryland, is facing several criminal charges after allegedly assaulting a homeless man and starting a fire. The 20-year-old defendant was arrested on Feb. 18 on suspicion of weapons charges, arson and assault after allegedly burning down a homeless structure that had been erected by two men behind a church. That church was less than a mile from the defendant’s home.

The defendant has officially been charged with first- and second-degree arson, possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, and first- and second-degree assault. Three counts of arson were also added to that list. The defendant remains in the Harford County Detention Center after failing to post a $250,000 bond.

Authorities say that the defendant ignited the makeshift homeless structure, made of boxes and plastic, behind the church on the evening of Feb. 11. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the one-alarm fire, which destroyed the structure entirely. Two men had been living in separate encampments behind the church. The defendant is accused of holding one victim at gunpoint as he set the other’s structure ablaze. He then threatened the victim before fleeing. Authorities say that no one was injured in the encounter.

Criminal defendants do not have to actually discharge their firearms to face weapons charges. In this situation, the man is accused of using the gun while committing another crime and even showing a threat of violence. Criminal penalties for crimes involving weapons may be far more serious than the consequences for those that did not involve firearms.

Defendants do not have to face the criminal court alone. A Maryland criminal defense attorney may be able to provide assistance that will allow defendants to learn more about their legal rights. These lawyers may educate their clients so they can make informed decisions about their legal cases.

Source:  BelAir Patch, “Edgewood Man Charged in Arson, Assault on Homeless Man” Elizabeth Janney, Feb. 18, 2014

Maryland man faces weapons charges after point-blank shooting

A Maryland man who apparently was attempting a stunt with a bulletproof vest is facing serious charges after he allegedly shot and killed his friend. The man, age 30, is facing weapons charges in addition to accusations of violent crimes, including first- and second-degree murder. The man and his friend may have been attempting a stunt in the style of the popular television show “Jackass,” according to officials.

News reports indicate that video of the incident exists, as the friends were recording their supposed stunts. First, the decedent was ‘dared’ to lick a toilet, which he reportedly did. Before the shooting, the victim said he was prepared to take a shot in the chest because of the bulletproof vest. However, the prank turned deadly when the defendant apparently missed the vest, causing catastrophic injuries and allegedly causing the man’s death.

Attorneys for the defendant say that he did not have any malicious feelings toward the victim. However, the defendant was ordered to be held without bail, as a judge determined that the alleged crime constituted “dangerous behavior.” The man was characterized as a reckless person who posed a serious danger to the outside community.

Still, attorneys in the case say there is some legal precedent for this type of stunt-related death. In another state, a defendant accused of a similar violation was only charged with involuntary manslaughter. The man’s lawyers say that the incident was fueled by the use of alcohol and drugs, and it should not warrant such serious allegations.

Criminal defendants facing murder charges must proceed with care and thoughtful legal strategy, as these allegations are extremely serious. No matter the relationship of the two parties, allegedly killing another human being can lead to dire consequences. Those facing homicide charges — no matter the reason — still deserve the unbiased legal protection of the American justice system.

Source:  The Baltimore Sun, “Man who killed friend in bullet-proof vest stunt is held without bail” Danae King, Jul. 21, 2014

Your rights in Baltimore when accused of violent crimes

All people in Baltimore have the fundamental right to a fair trial, regardless of what types of crimes they have been accused of committing. It does not matter if you just want to fight a traffic ticket or if you have been accused of violent crimes like assault or even murder. You still have this basic right, and it must be upheld. It is critical that you understand this before a trial begins.

It also does not matter how you arrived at the charges. For example, perhaps you are facing weapons charges. When most people think about these types of crimes, they assume that they actually mean gun charges, but this is simply not the case. You can be given related charges for incidents involving all manner of items, such as:

– Knives – A baseball bat – A pipe – Nun-chucks – Brass knuckles – And much more.

When the accusations are leveled, remember not to say anything right at first. As your Miranda rights state, the things you say can come back in a trial. You never want to make a statement one way or the other, at least not until you are sure that you fully understand all of your rights and your legal options. Even if you know you are innocent, wait until this time to tell the authorities what happened. This ensures that your rights are protected the entire time.

Do you want to learn more about how this all works? If you do, we think that our page on violent crimes may be very helpful and informative.

Defending against weapons charges in Maryland

Being charged with a violent crime is one thing. Being charged with a violent crime that includes weapons charges is another thing entirely different. Indeed, weapons charges will elevate the severity of punishments associated with a conviction exponentially. Therefore, Baltimore residents will want to make sure that their criminal defense is spot-on in any kind of criminal matter relating to weapons charges.

Another thing that makes weapons charges particularly challenging in Baltimore is the fact that the city happens to be one of the most violent in the nation, where its residents are frequently accused of weapons charges. What this means means is that local prosecutors have a great deal of experience with what it takes to successfully convict a defendant. If federal police are also working with local law enforcement in your case, your defense may become even more challenging.

At the Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr., we have a great deal of experience with weapons charge cases, too. We have handled the defense of hundreds of criminal matters. Some of the more common cases we have defended include charges relating to concealed weapons, unauthorized or illegal weapons, the use of a weapon while committing a felony, unregistered weapons and a great deal more.

At the end of the day, whomever you choose to represent you in your criminal proceedings, make sure you select a defense attorney with extensive state and federal trial experience in the state of Maryland. A lawyer with extensive and regular court experience will probably have worked with the judge presiding over your case before, and will probably have worked with the police officers and prosecutors involved your case. Knowing who and what you are up against is an invaluable asset to any defendant who is defending against weapons charges of any kind.

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.

Not all states require a permit or gun license, but some do, so if you have a gun and plan to travel, this is something to consider. Here’s an example. In California, if you purchase a handgun without a safety certificate, you’ll face a misdemeanor. You could go to prison for up to six months and you could be fined up to $1,000.

In Maryland, you must be 21 to own a gun. If you are underage and found without a license to carry, you could be imprisoned for up to five years and be fined up to $10,000. The crime is a misdemeanor. This varies significantly from Maine, where there is no specific penalties for those 18 or older having a handgun.

Source: OLR Research Report, “Penalties for Illegal Handgun Possession,” James Orlando, accessed July 02, 2015