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California Raises Penalty for Possession of Date Rape Drugs

Posted by Seth Chazin | Mar 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

A new law dictates that possession of date-rape drugs with intent to commit sexual assault will be charged as a felony. The enhanced penalty surfaced only a year after voters of California approved ballot measure Proposition 47, to lessen various drug related crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor.  

Prior to Proposition 47, possession of a date-rape drugs was charged as either a felony, or a misdemeanor. Rather than sticking with the ballot measure, making possessions a misdemeanor (part of drug law reform), lawmakers of California enhanced the penalty for possession of date rape drugs. Statistics related to sexual assault:

With nearly one in five women falling victim to date-rape in their life, the measure takes a stand against sexual assault and sex crimes. Awareness of the law is important for men too. The use of alcohol and drugs remains pervasive in date-rape and sexual assault. 74 percent of men who admitted to rape said they used alcohol or drugs to commit it. One in twelve college men committed rape, but more than 80% believed their life actions were illegal. What some young men previously thought was harmless casual sex, can actually be considered a felony offense.

The argument form the prosecutors is that possession of date-rape drugs like GHB, ketamine Rohypnol (see bill # 1182), is different than possession of cocaine or marijuana. When someone uses/possesses marijuana, they are arguably harming themselves. The prosecutors, on the other hand, argue that the possession or usage of date-rape drugs harms other people if they are administered without the victim's knowledge, or consent, and used specifically with the intent to commit sexual assault.  

Consequences of The New Law

The law's language (criminalizing possession) allows prosecutors and police to supposedly reduce sexual assault by preventing perpetrators from possessing the drugs, which they claim helps prevent the crime before the act occurs.

As date-rape drugs like ketamine & GHB are potent in small amounts and can be acquired from a prescription, an otherwise legal possession may end up as a felony charge in California. Even if you do not face conviction, the stigma of being associated with a premeditated sexual assault, and/or drug possession may carry lifelong consequences.

Regardless of how charges are brought, you must seek counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney who'll ensure that you are provided constitutional due process protections  throughout any legal proceedings.

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.

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Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 25 years experience.

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