Maryland Substance Abuse Evaluations

While anyone can recommend that a Maryland defendant undergo a substance abuse evaluation, only the judge can ultimately order it. The judge typically orders the evaluation on behalf of the state as a condition of pretrial release or as a condition of sentencing after a conviction. In certain cases, the individual may choose to be evaluated or it may be a recommendation of the defense attorney.

Undergoing substance abuse evaluations is an important decision that could have numerous consequences on a person’s criminal case. Whether a person is facing criminal charges related to alcohol or drug use, a substance evaluation could either be used against them or in their favor. A well-versed criminal attorney could answer any questions you may have regarding substance evaluations and how they might impact your case.

What Occurs in a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

A substance-abuse evaluation in Maryland is generally conducted by a professional who is employed by the Department of Parole and Probation. This person asks the defendant a series of questions and collects information from the individual. Based on the person’s responses to those questions and the evaluation, the department will make an assessment of the person’s behavior and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Maryland evaluations for substance abuse are conducted privately. While the results and information they bear are also private, they may be shared under certain circumstances with members of the judicial system. This could include the judge or prosecutor in subsequent proceedings.

Intended Purpose of Substance Abuse Evaluations

The most direct purpose of substance abuse evaluations in Maryland is to assess an individual’s use, habits, and relationship with alcohol, drugs, and other controlled dangerous substances. This includes illegal prescription drugs or other mind-altering substances. If an evaluation is conducted as a part of the pretrial release, it is a piece of the overall purpose of pretrial release conditions. This is done to ensure that the person is not a threat to themselves or the community during the pendency of their case. It may also ensure that the person will return to court. Since both of these areas can be affected by substance abuse or addiction, the court seeks an evaluation to gain information about any potential risk of use, abuse, or addiction.

If it is a condition of probation, it is to ensure that a person is not using or abusing illegal substances during that time. The evaluation may also alert courts of any advanced or specialized medical treatment that the defendant might need.

Benefits of Undergoing a Substance Abuse Evaluation

There are several benefits of undergoing a substance abuse evaluation. The person will learn certain information about themselves and their own personal relationship with drugs and alcohol. While this information may be a confirmation of what the person already knew, it is often enlightening or educational. If the person is in need of additional treatment, the evaluation can help them understand what their needs are and provide resources to meet them. This can be beneficial for a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

An evaluation could also help a person with their court case. It may be required that they conduct an evaluation and complete any recommended treatment as part of a condition of probation or some other agreement. In certain cases, a person chooses to do it on their own. This could be used in the plea negotiations to argue for a more lenient sentence.

Consequences of an Evaluation

Indications of a Pattern of Substance Abuse

If an evaluation indicates that a person has a pattern of substance abuse, they will be recommended or ordered to participate in some level of continued substance-abuse treatment. This could take the form of simply going to meetings on a regular basis with a counselor, or it may involve Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotic Addicts Anonymous, or other group meetings. The defendant may also be ordered to participate in an out-patient program, ordered to live at a halfway house type of residence, or ordered to participate in an intensive in-patient residential treatment program.

Indications of Addictive Behavior

While the consequences of an evaluation indicating addictive behavior depend on the level of addictive behavior, there will be some recommendation or order to undergo either additional treatment or use other resources. It could be provided by literature, counseling, or other therapeutic options. The person may be ordered or recommended to participate in various programs.

Indications of No Tendency Towards Future Problems with Substance Abuse

In cases in which an evaluation indicates no tendency toward future substance-abuse problems, no further action is typically recommended. This would also usually end the court and the state’s involvement in the person’s use of alcohol or other substances.

Speak With an Experienced Maryland Attorney About Substance Abuse Evaluations

Before taking Maryland substance abuse evaluations, it is important for individuals to consult a seasoned defense attorney. An evaluation could either be used by the prosecution against a defendant or be used by the defense to strengthen the accused’s case. Each person’s evaluation may have a different result that has its own impact on their case. A dedicated attorney could help you get an evaluation done properly and could provide the support you need.

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