Using Man’s Best Friend as a Dangerous WeaponThe term “deadly weapon” typically makes individuals think of a gun or knife, or an inanimate object that can be used to cause harm. However, recently two men allegedly used a dog as a way to attack and rob a man.

According to CBS News, two men and a dog approached an unarmed man and unleashed their dog, and it attacked him, biting him in both legs and his left arm. The alleged robbers took the man’s wallet, keys, and money but left his vehicle. The injured man transported himself to a nearby medical center for treatment. Reports say he was in serious condition upon arrival.

What is considered a deadly weapon in Maryland?

The most important element in a deadly weapons robbery case is the weapon used. We must address the “dog” in the room. Is a dog considered a deadly weapon in Maryland? Under Section 4-101(a)(5) of Maryland’s Criminal Code, the following are listed as dangerous weapons in Maryland:

  • Pepper spray
  • Nunchaku
  • Sandclub
  • Metal knuckles
  • Razor
  • Switchblade
  • Dirk knife
  • Bowie knife
  • Star knife

There is no mention of a dog being a dangerous weapon. They are also not considered “destructive devices” (Section 4-501) because they are not explosive or incendiary. They are also not firearms or handguns (Section 4-201) nor assault weapons (Section 4-301).

But in this exact case, the dog was cleared used for its power. Even if the dog hadn’t bitten the man, it was still used to intimidate him into compliance.

CBS News interviewed some dog trainers to weigh in on the events. Daniel McElroy, a local trainer with more than 20 years of experience in this line of work, had this to say:

A well-trained dog can cripple you or kill you, simple as that. A highly trained dog that does obedience, that can do aggression on command, and that can respond to threats to their handler. I train protection dogs because I want people to be safe from this type of thing, not to be a victim to this type of thing using a dog.

You do sometimes run into dogs that are just aggressive dogs. And if someone has a dog and they know they have an aggressive dog, perhaps they could take him out and release him on someone.

So, yes – it appears that a dog can be used as a dangerous or deadly weapon, but in Maryland, you may not be charged as such.

Robbery charges in Maryland

Your entire life is affected when you are charged with robbery. People often assume that robbery is a type of theft charges, as it involves one party taking another person’s property. But in Maryland, robbery is a considered a “crime against the person,” like assault. Kidnapping, or rape. And while theft charges are very serious in and of their own right, robbery charges are a horse of a different color.

Per the law, robbery is defined as “depriving a person of his or her money, services, or property without permission with intent to keep it, using force or intimidation.” Robbery is a felony, and you can face up to 15 years in prison. Robbery with a dangerous weapon is also a felony, and carries a prison sentence of no more than 20 years. Should a similar scenario happen here in Maryland, the chances are good the accused would face robbery charges, but not “robbery with a dangerous weapon” charges.

What the accused would likely face is additional charges for assault in the first degree: “ A person may not intentionally cause or attempt to cause serious physical injury to another.” This charge carries a prison term of up to 25 years. As such, the accused may be facing up to 40 years in prison if a judge or jury decided to run the sentences consecutively.

Also, it is important to note that if such an attack happened here, Maryland does not require any type of expert testimony to prove serious injury in these types of cases. The State can rely solely on the alleged victim’s testimony and photos, if it so chooses.

There are other penalties you need to be aware of, too. With a felony conviction, you can lose your job and professional license. The court can revoke any security clearances as well. You can be denied the right to carry a handgun, to vote, or to access certain types of government assistance, like housing assistance or educational loans.

An experienced criminal Bowie and Crofton defense attorney can fight these charges or help minimize the penalties to move past this situation. There are several defense strategies our team uses in cases of theft. Lack of evidence to identify the alleged robbery suspect is often crucial in getting these charges dropped or reduced. Lack of DNA and other physical evidence are other key factors in our defense strategies. If there are witnesses, we can argue the validity of their claim. A plea deal may be the best route when all else fails.

Robbery charges can change your life forever, even if you are not convicted. Our Bowie and Crofton criminal defense attorney knows what it takes to win these cases and is standing by to help you. Give Carey Law Office a call at 301-464-2500, or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation today. W have an additional office in Owings for your convenience.