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Should Possession of Date Rape Drugs Be a Felony?

SB 333 is a proposed law being sent to Governor Brown that seeks to increase the current penalties against those possessing common date rape drugs. The bill’s supporters say that an unintended consequence of Proposition 47 was that it reduced the penalty for those who carried date rape drugs with the intent to commit sexual assault. If passed, the bill would make it a felony to posses date rape drugs if you have the intent to commit rape or sexual assault.1

Proposition 47: A Reason to Pass SB 333

Prop 47 was a recent legislative effort that decreased penalties for non-violent drug offenses, including those possessing date rape drugs. What followed was the reclassification of many drug possession charges from felony offenses to misdemeanors.

Proponents of SB 333 think that Prop 47 left the government’s stance too weak against potential sexual predators who intend to use date rape drugs on victims. The legislature now seeks to close this loophole by allowing prosecutors to pursue felony charges against those arrested for possession of date rape drugs.

New Proposed Law Explained

date rape drugsSpecifically, if you’re found in possession of Rohypnol or ‘rufis’, GHB, or ketamine, and you have the intent to commit sexual assault, you can be charged with a felony.2 One problem with the proposed law’s policy is that some of these substances are used recreationally, thus making it more difficult to determine one’s actual motives. The prosecution would still have to be able to prove intent to commit sexual assault; however, prosecutors could use the new law to coerce you into accepting a plea deal even though you only intended to use such drug recreationally.

Violations of the proposed law would be punishable by 16 months to three years in prison.3 The new law is arguably duplicative considering that you can already be charged you with attempted sexual assault crimes (e.g. attempted rape or sexual assault), which carry harsher penalties.

If passed, the new law could be the first to erase the effects of Prop 47 and California’s efforts to reduce overly harsh punishments against non-violent drug offenders.

Next Steps Before SB333 Becomes Law

Both the General Assembly and the State Senate must pass a bill before it’s presented to the governor.4 Governor Brown can either sign the bill into law, not sign it (which allows it to become law), or veto it.

SB 333 has already passed in both the Senate and General Assembly. A governor’s veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses. So depending on the Governor’s actions, we will see what further steps, if any, will need to be taken. As long as Governor Brown does not veto the bill, the bill will become law in January 2016.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

Date Rape AttorneyIf you are facing charges of possession of date rape drugs, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled lawyers have been successfully defending our clients accused of possession of drugs for over 30 years. We know the valid defenses that could help you obtain the best result in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, West Covina, Torrance, Sherman Oaks, Ventura and Victorville, our criminal defense attorneys are able to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. [http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/4475-california-date-rape-drug-legislation-sent-to-governor]
2. [https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB333]
3. [Id.]
4. [http://openstates.org/ca/bills/20152016/SB333/]

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.