Understanding California’s New Law on Date Rape Drugs

Understanding California’s New Law on Date Rape Drugs

Increased Punishments

In the midst of ongoing changes in the California Department of Justice and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, many penalties for non-violent crimes have been reduced. Penalties for offenses involving certain date rape drugs, however, have increased. Possession of date rape drugs coupled with the intent to commit a sexual assault may be charged as a felony under a new law that came into effect in 2017. Previously, the prosecuting attorney had the discretion to decide whether to charge such an offense as a misdemeanor or a felony. Even possession of prescription medications that are commonly used as “date rape” drugs can be charged as a felony if the defendant had the intent to commit a sexual assault. The penalties for felonies are typically much more severe than they are for misdemeanors, making this change a significant one.

Possession of date rape drugs, unlike possession of some other drugs, can be charged as a felony if the defendant had the intent to use the drug to commit sexual assault. Sexual assault is sexual activity that the victim does not agree to. Date rape drug is a general term employed by the media but typically includes such drugs that can leave a person completely unconscious, such as:

Rohypnol is illegal in the U.S. but used in Europe and Mexico for certain purposes. It is a widely available date rape drug and dissolves quickly in liquid. Rohypnol can cause drowsiness, muscle relaxation or loss of muscle control, a drunken feeling, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, difficulty remembering the incident, dizziness, and sleepiness in the victim.

  • GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric)

GHB is legal in the U.S. and used to treat narcolepsy, but it is highly regulated. It takes effect quickly and is extremely potent, making it easy to overdose. GHB can cause similar symptoms in victims, including relaxation, drowsiness, dizziness, problems seeing, loss of consciousness, tremors, seizures, coma, or even death.

  • Ketamine

Ketamine is legal in the U.S. and is used predominately for animal anesthetic. Ketamine acts quickly, and while it may not necessarily cause loss of consciousness, it can prevent the victim from moving. Ketamine can cause distorted perceptions of light and sound, loss of sense of time and identity, impaired motor function, numbness, memory problems, and a dream-like feeling.

Although GHB and Ketamine are legal in the U.S., possessing a valid prescription of one of these drugs won’t help you in your case as long as the prosecutor can prove you had intent to commit a sexual assault. The prosecutor can accomplish this by providing circumstantial evidence. Sexual assault continues to be a major problem in California, and it’s worsened by the widespread availability of date rape drugs, so don’t expect to get off easy.

As you can see, the new law is meant to prevent instances of date rape from occurring by imposing harsh penalties for possession of a date rape drug. And though you may even have a valid prescription for the drug, you can end up facing serious felony charges if you had intent to commit a sexual assault. That being said, you should to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges for possession of a date rape drug. These cases are complex, and with the advent of the new law, you need an attorney on your side who can help ensure you are not unfairly charged with a felony under the wide purview of the new law. The new law will certainly land violent offenders behind bars, but it has the potential to leave innocent people with a felony conviction, something that will change their lives for years to come.

Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you are facing a drug possession charge. No matter the type of drug or the other circumstances surrounding the offense, you should never face such charges alone. A skilled attorney can explain what your charges mean and how the prosecutor can charge you. An attorney can also advise you on the penalties you face and help you develop a course of action in your case, be it a defense strategy or a plea bargain.

Have you recently been arrested and are facing charges for drug possession? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County.  Specializing in criminal defense, Mr. Martens can take immediate action in your case to defend your rights and your freedom. With over ten years experience in criminal defense, Attorney Martens has taken over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to do the same for you. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com for a free consultation.

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