5 Maryland Laws Effective Oct. 1: What You Need to Know

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Five Maryland state laws go into effect on Oct. 1. Here’s what you need to know.

The Child Victims Act of 2023 

The Child Victims Act of 2023 repeals the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases. Starting Oct. 1 victims of child sex abuse can file civil lawsuits against their abuser and institutions that should have protected them, regardless of when the crime occured.

Currently, victims have to file a lawsuit before they turn 38 for child sex abuse crimes that occured while they were a minor.

Under the new law, civil damages for an individual perpetrator cannot exceed $1.5 million and $890,000 for government entities to a single accuser.

Repeal of the Spousal Defense of Rape 

Maryland will end the “spousal defense” for rape, the exemption that prevented prosecution if the rapist was the spouse of their victim.

Under current state law, a person cannot be prosecuted for the rape of their spouse unless the person uses force or the threat of force. The rapist could be prosecuted if the spouses were living apart for at least three months or had a written separation agreement.

Gun Safety Act of 2023

A new Maryland law will restrict where people can carry a concealed firearm.

The Gun Safety Act of 2023 prohibits people from transporting a firearm into areas designated for children or vulnerable individuals, government or public infrastructure, and special purpose areas. Special purpose areas include places licensed to sell alcohol or cannabis, stadiums, museums and racetracks.

The act bans bringing a firearm to a dwelling or property if the owner has not given direct permission to do so.

Penalties for breaking this law could go up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

The Josh Siems Act

Hospitals will be required to test for fentanyl during urine drug screenings. If the screening detects fentanyl, the hospital must report the de-identified test results to the Maryland Department of Health.

The act is named for Josh Siems, a Baltimore resident who died from a fentanyl overdose in 2022.

Civil Remedy for Hate Crimes 

A victim of a hate crime, starting Oct. 1, may bring a civil action against the person or group who committed the crime. As a result of a civil action, the victim may be rewarded economic and noneconomic damages.

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