Each January, the Maryland General Assembly convenes to begin its legislative session. During the session, the MSBA not only monitors hundreds of bills but also supports legislation that protects the legal profession, preserves the integrity of the judicial system, and ensures access to justice for Marylanders. The MSBA’s practice-based Sections and Laws Committee regularly offers insight and perspective to legislators on the potential impact of bills as well. 

The MSBA’s advocacy takes many forms, including drafting bills and amendments, providing testimony and advice to legislators, mobilizing MSBA members on priority bills, and convening our members and legislators. Throughout the 2023 session, the MSBA provided bi-weekly bill reports to members with relevant bills and held weekly calls with Section legislative liaisons to discuss advocacy strategies and priority issues. The MSBA regularly features advocacy content and updates through our various channels, including our website, e-weekly, Section newsletters, Maryland Bar Journal, and social media.The MSBA was pleased that several of our priority bills passed this year. Several other bills impacting the legal profession passed as well. 

The following MSBA-supported bills, which affect attorneys practicing criminal law, go into effect on October 1, 2023.

Criminal Law – Probation Before Judgment – Probation Agreements (HB193/SB211)

HB193/SB211 amends the probation before judgment statute to remove negative, unintended consequences, including immigration deportation and detention and the loss of professional opportunities and licenses.  The MSBA was proud to work with the bill sponsors and stakeholders to secure amendments and passage to benefit Marylanders, after several years of advocacy.

Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense (HB4/SB129)

HB4/SB129 finally closed the loophole of the “spousal defense,” which prohibited prosecution of a spouse for charges of rape and sexual offenses. The MSBA has provided leadership on this issue for years, with our Family and Juvenile Law Section noting that this law “will provide the highest level of support and relief for victims of sexual assault, including those married to their perpetrator.”

The ability to make a difference in Annapolis is just one of the many reasons we need all legal professionals to belong to the MSBA to ensure we remain a strong and vibrant association. Thank you for your support. Visit us at msba.org/advocacy and contact us at advocacy@msba.org.