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Whether a Defendant Serving a Sentence for a Crime of Violence Is Entitled to Immediate Relief under Health General 8-505?

As indicated below, Maryland provides that at almost any time a defendant may be evaluated to determine whether because of drug or alcohol abuse the defendant is in need and may benefit from treatment.

Many times someone will demand treatment in lieu of incarceration based on the statute. There is a strong body of evidence that someone with a drug or alcohol problem is not cured simply by abstinence from the drug or alcohol be it months or years. They come in an addict and they leave an addict without treatment. Often times the evaluation and subsequent treatment can help lead to a healthier, safer and crime free life.

One of the ways in which Maryland categorizes crime is whether it is a crime of violence or not a crime of violence. The definition of crime of violence is more broad than one might think. The problem if one is convicted of a crime of violence is that relief under Health Gen. 8-505 is not available until after the defendant is first parole eligible.

In Maryland, if a person is convicted of a crime of violence, parole eligibility begins at 50% of the actual sentence. In other words, if someone receives 25 years for a 1st° assault, they are not parole eligible until 12 1/2 years and consequently not eligible for consideration of 8-505 until 12 1/2 years. The statute below makes this clear in my opinion.

§ 8-505. Evaluation of criminal defendants
(a) In general. -- (1) (i) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, before or during a criminal trial, before or after sentencing, or before or during a term of probation, the court may order the Department to evaluate a defendant to determine whether, by reason of drug or alcohol abuse, the defendant is in need of and may benefit from treatment if:
1. It appears to the court that the defendant has an alcohol or drug abuse problem; or

2. The defendant alleges an alcohol or drug dependency.
(ii) A court shall set and may change the conditions under which an examination is to be conducted under this section.

(iii) The Department shall ensure that each evaluation under this section is conducted in accordance with regulations adopted by the Department.

(i) If a defendant is serving a sentence for a crime of violence, as defined in § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article, a court may not order the Department to evaluate a defendant under this section until the defendant is eligible for parole.

(ii) Nothing in this paragraph may be construed to prohibit a defendant who is serving a sentence for a crime of violence, as defined in § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article from participating in any other treatment program or receiving treatment under the supervision of the Department under any other provision of law.

(b) Outpatient examinations. -- On consideration of the nature of the charge, the court:
(1) May require or permit an examination to be conducted on an outpatient basis; and

(2) If an outpatient examination is authorized, shall set bail for the defendant or authorize the release of the defendant on personal recognizance.

(c) Custodial examinations; detention and examination; habeas corpus. -- (1) If a defendant is to be held in custody for examination under this section:
(i) The defendant may be confined in a detention facility until the Department is able to conduct the examination; or

(ii) The court may order confinement of the defendant in a medical wing or other isolated and secure unit of a detention facility, if the court finds it appropriate for the health or safety of the defendant.

(2) (i) If the court finds that, because of the apparent severity of the alcohol or drug dependency or other medical or psychiatric complications, a defendant in custody would be endangered by confinement in a jail, the court may order the Department to either:
1. Place the defendant, pending examination, in an appropriate health care facility; or

2. Immediately conduct an evaluation of the defendant.
(ii) Unless the Department retains a defendant, the defendant shall be promptly returned to the court after an examination.

(iii) A defendant who is detained for an examination under this section may question at any time the legality of the detention by a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

(d) Duties of evaluator. -- (1) If a court orders an evaluation under this section, the evaluator shall:
(i) Conduct an evaluation of the defendant; and

(ii) Submit a complete report of the evaluation within 7 days to the:
1. Court;

2. Department; and

3. Defendant or the defendant's attorney.

(2) On good cause shown, a court may extend the time for an evaluation under this section.

(3) Whenever an evaluator recommends treatment, the evaluator's report shall:
(i) Name a specific program able to immediately provide the recommended treatment; and

(ii) Give an actual or estimated date when the program can begin treatment of the defendant.

(e) Department to provide services. --
(1) The Department shall immediately provide the services required by this section.

(2) A designee of the Department may carry out any of its duties under this section.

(f) Administration to perform evaluations. -- Evaluations performed in facilities operated by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services shall be conducted by the Administration.
MD Code Health-Gen. 8-505 Evaluation of criminal defendants (Maryland Code (2019 Edition))
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