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Virginia Laws Against & Penalties for Destructive Devices


Across the State of Maryland, it is a criminal offense to possess, use, or otherwise detonate destructive devices. Under Maryland law, the term destructive device can apply to mechanism capable of delivering an explosive, incendiary, or toxic substance. These devices have similar characteristics to military hardware, sharing the same capability to inflict maximum physical harm or property damage.

Definition of Destructive Devices

The definition of a destructive device appears under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-501. From a general standpoint, Maryland law defines a destructive device as any explosive, incendiary, or toxic substance that can:

  • Inflict physical injury or property damage when combined with a delivery or detonation mechanism; or
  • Qualify as military ordinance based deliberate modification of equipment and delivery to enhance destructive traits.

From a specific standpoint, the definition of a destructive device under Maryland law includes but is not necessarily limited to:

  • Bombs;
  • Flamethrowers;
  • Grenades;
  • Mines;
  • Missiles;
  • Molotov cocktails;
  • Petroleum-soaked ammonium nitrate;
  • Pipe bombs;
  • Poison gases; and
  • Shells.

Laws Against Destructive Devices

The laws against destructive devices appear under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-503. In exact terms, it is unlawful under Maryland law to knowingly:

  • Control, distribute, manufacture, sell, store, transport, or use a destructive device; or
  • Possess explosive, incendiary, or toxic materials with the intention of creating a destructive device.

Any person who violates the laws above may be subject to the maximum penalties under Maryland law, as outlined in the following section.

Exceptions to Laws Against Destructive Devices

The exceptions to Maryland laws against destructive devices appear under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-502. In exact terms, the Maryland laws against destructive devices do not apply to:

  • Members of the armed forces acting within the scope of their official duties;
  • Government officers and employees acting within the scope of their official duties;
  • Licensed or regulated individuals who are authorized to possess destructive devices; or
  • Individuals authorized to possess smokeless or black gunpowder for use with antique firearms.

Penalties for Destructive Devices

The Maryland penalties for unlawful use or possession of destructive devices also appear under Section 4-503. In most cases, this offense is a felony and punishable by a 25-year prison sentence and up to $250,000 in criminal fines. These penalties operate in addition to any other applicable penalties under relevant laws or statutes.

Furthermore, if a minor child commits a delinquent act with a destructive device, the Maryland courts may also order a period of driver’s license suspension under Section 4-503. Though as detailed below, the suspension period varies based on the number of previous offenses:

  • First Offense — The offender will face driver’s license suspension for up to six months; or
  • Second or Subsequent Offense — The offender may face driver’s license suspension for up to 12 months.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about destructive devices or similar criminal offenses in Maryland, it can be thoroughly helpful to reach out to a steadfast Baltimore criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Iamele & Iamele, LLP in Baltimore, Maryland, understand the nuances of criminal defense and can answer your questions about various offenses, including destructive devices. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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