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Maryland Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm Charges

Due to the fact that it is considered reckless endangerment, unlawfully discharging a firearm in Maryland can carry burdening penalties including both incarceration and fines. For this reason, if you are facing such charges, it is important to make sure you have an experienced Maryland federal gun attorney by your side to assist in reducing any and all potential penalties associated with the accused crime.

Definition of An Unlawful Discharge

Anytime a firearm is discharged outside of a firing range, target range, or when hunting, it is unlawful. There is an argument regarding the right to shoot a firearm vertically up into the air, but that can still be considered dangerous because the bullet must land somewhere.

Reckless endangerment can be a minor charge, but an individual needs to be careful and responsible with a firearm. Unlawful discharge of a firearm can result in such a charge. For example, if an individual is holding a firearm and it accidentally discharges, it can still result in a charge.


There are local ordinances that are put in place by various counties throughout Maryland. In some counties, firing a BB gun is prohibited. The penalties really depend on where the individual is located, and what ordinances have been violated. If a person discharges a firearm in a gun-free zone, they can be arrested and prosecuted up to the maximum potential incarceration for that charge.

Lawful Discharge

The most common place to lawfully discharge a firearm is at a firing range. It is fully permitted and not an issue. Another time an individual can lawfully discharge a firearm is when hunting in a permitted area, in season. This is conditional with the fact that the individual possesses a license to carry a firearm.

Target ranges are also environments where an individual may discharge a weapon, if done in a safe setting. That being said, a person cannot for example, shoot cans from a backyard fence in a residential neighborhood.

Defenses to Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm

For a person to be convicted, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she pulled the trigger.  If there is any doubt at all, such as a scenario where it could have been someone else that discharged the firearm, then reasonable doubt exists and the accused is not guilty. With the discharge of a firearm, unlike possession, there are rarely eyewitnesses or actual direct evidence that the person fired or discharged the firearm.

Unless the police see it or the individual admits to it, the prosecution might have a tough time proving who it was. It makes little difference that the police come five minutes after they were called and see one person sitting next to a gun. Another person could have been there prior to the police showing up, and it essentially means nothing that the police see one person sitting next to a gun. This leaves the prosecution wondering who exactly may have discharged the firearm.

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