Maryland Health General 8-505

Drug and alcohol addiction can cause disruption within a person’s environment, whether they are the individual suffering from the addiction or a family member, friend, or employer. Unfortunately, many people with addictions turn to criminal activity as a means of supporting their habit. This situation can be further complicated by the user’s mental health and other underlying issues. Sadly, many people in Maryland continue to suffer from substance addiction and abuse throughout the course of their pretrial detention and incarceration without any access to professional medical treatment. To provide an alternative to incarceration that helps address the issues of addiction and mental health disorders that often lead to criminal activity, the Maryland Legislature has provided the courts the remedy of Health General Articles §§ 8-505, 8-506 and 8-507.

Maryland Health General 8-505

Under Maryland Health General § 8-505, a court may order the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct an evaluation of the Defendant to determine if there is a need for drug or alcohol abuse treatment and whether a program is available to address those needs. The court should order such an evaluation if it appears to the court that the defendant has an alcohol or drug abuse problem or the defendant alleges an alcohol or drug dependency.

The good news is under Maryland Health General § 8-505, a defendant can request an evaluation for drug or alcohol abuse treatment at any time. This means a defendant is eligible for evaluation and placement in a substance abuse treatment program both during the time the case is pending pre-trial or while the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration. It is important to note that if the defendant is serving a sentence for a crime of violence, they may not request an evaluation until they are eligible for parole, although any such defendant sentenced before 2018 is still eligible for evaluation and placement. Evaluations for drug or alcohol abuse under Maryland Health General § 8-505 can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis and a person may even be released from a detention center to allow an evaluation to take place. The decision as to where the Maryland Health General § 8-505 evaluation is to take place is within the discretion of the court.

After the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene completes their Maryland Health General § 8-505 evaluation, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will submit a report to the court outlining what if any programs are available to accept the defendant for drug or alcohol treatment on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, when the defendant could enter the program, and what those programs would offer the defendant. At that point, and with the court’s approval, a drug or alcohol treatment program would be provided to the defendant without any cost to the defendant themselves in accordance with the report and any additions or changes imposed by the court.

It is important to understand that MD HG § 8-505 evaluations for drug or alcohol treatment require that the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene include in their report whether there are any outstanding warrants, sentences or untried criminal cases pertaining to the defendant. An effective attorney will help ensure that there are no surprises when a report is submitted by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Defendants may be able to resolve complicated violation of probation or even parole matters by making the court aware of their substance abuse issues and need for substance abuse treatment. Having an attorney that can present such issues on behalf of a defendant is critical to help resolve cases through Maryland Health General §§ 8-505/8-507 remedies. If you or a loved one are either pending a criminal case or serving a sentence and could benefit from Maryland Health General §§ 8-505/8-507 drug and alcohol treatment please feel free to contact our office at 888-585-7979 or info@cohenharris.com to discuss your options.