Maryland residents are eagerly anticipating the implementation of several new laws that will come into effect on October 1, 2023. These laws cover a wide range of topics, from spousal defense to child sexual assault statutes of limitations. In this comprehensive overview, we will delve into the details of these new laws and what they mean for the people of Maryland.
One significant change in Maryland law is the repeal of the spousal defense. Previously, if a spouse was being prosecuted for rape or any other sexual offense, their partner could avoid taking the stand under the spousal communications privilege. However, with the new law, this defense will no longer apply in cases where the person committing the crime uses force or threat of force and the act is without the consent of the spouse.
Another notable law is the repeal of current amendments that restrict individuals from retroactively filing a lawsuit against a former abuser in cases of child sexual assault. Starting October 1st, victims of sexual abuse will have the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit even though the original three (3) year statute of limitations has expired.
Maryland has also made changes to the waiting periods for expungement of certain charges from an individual’s record. The new law states that a person must wait five years after sentencing, parole, probation, or mandatory supervision has been satisfied before filing a petition for expungement. Some of the charges now eligible for expungement include disorderly intoxication, operating a business without proper licenses, assault, and property damage under $1000, among others. However, it is important to note that outstanding balances with the court may disqualify an individual from expungement.
In an effort to combat the opioid crisis, hospitals in Maryland will now be required to conduct tests for fentanyl as part of urine drug screenings for patients suspected of an overdose. If fentanyl is detected in the test, the results will be reported to the Maryland Department of Health. This measure aims to improve tracking and monitoring of fentanyl use in the state.
Maryland has updated its laws regarding divorce, providing new grounds for both limited and absolute divorces. Under the new law, a court can grant a limited divorce if the parties have been living separately for at least six months or if there is evidence of child abuse. Additionally, the court may decree a divorce for a limited or indefinite time based on grounds such as adultery, irreconcilable differences, or if one spouse has been sentenced to at least three years in prison.
In an effort to protect victims of child sex trafficking, Maryland has implemented the Safe Harbor Law. This law ensures that victims will not face charges for certain crimes related to their exploitation, such as trespassing, theft, prostitution, driving without a license, or possessing a fake ID. The aim is to provide support and assistance to victims rather than criminalizing their actions.
To address the severity of sexual abuse crimes, Maryland has enacted a law mandating lifetime sexual offender supervision for individuals convicted of specific sexual abuse offenses. This measure aims to ensure ongoing monitoring and support for the rehabilitation of offenders while prioritizing the safety of the community.
In an effort to protect tenants, Maryland has implemented a law requiring landlords to provide written notice or send an email at least 120 days before increasing rent by more than 4%. This measure aims to give tenants ample time to prepare for potential rent increases and make informed decisions regarding their housing situations.
Maryland has taken steps to ensure access to gender-affirming treatment by mandating that the Maryland Medical Assistance Program offer medically necessary gender-affirming treatment without discrimination. The program cannot withhold care related to gender-affirming treatment unless a qualified healthcare provider with experience in this field reviews and confirms the decision.
With these new laws now in effect, Maryland residents should familiarize themselves with them. From the repeal of the spousal defense to changes in child sexual assault statutes of limitations and expungement waiting periods, these laws aim to address various issues and protect the rights and well-being of Marylanders. It is important for individuals to understand these laws and how they may impact their lives. For a comprehensive list of all the new laws coming into effect, visit the Maryland General Assembly’s website. Stay informed and be prepared for these changes in the legal landscape of Maryland.