Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pye v. State (Ct. of Appeals)

Filed March 19, 2007–Opinion by Chief Judge Robert M. Bell.

This opinion resolves three cases: Teel v. State (No. 123), Womack v. State (No. 114), and Pye v. State (No. 113). With one exception, all three cases address essentially the same legal issue and involve essentially the same argument with respect to the merger of certain handgun related offenses. That issue is restated as follows:

"Whether the holding in Frazier v. State, 318 Md. 597, 569 A.2d 684 (1990), that the offenses of carrying a handgun and possession of a firearm by a convicted person do not merge, is still viable even though, subsequent to that decision, the General Assembly increased the penalties associated with the crime of possession of a firearm by a convicted person."

This Court held Frazier is still viable. The exception is the second issue, presented only in Pye:

"Did the trial judge err in denying Pye’s motion to dismiss and acquit by sentencing him to a five year no parole sentence for possession of a firearm by a person with a prior conviction under Article 27, § 449(e) where Pye previously had been convicted of a felony but not a crime of violence?"

Concluding that § 449(e) requires an individual to have been previously convicted of a crime or crimes that were both a felony and a crime of violence, the Court answered in the affirmative holding that the trial judge erred as a matter of law by denying Pye’s motion for judgment of acquittal on that count.

The full opinion is available in PDF.

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