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Drugs Used to Commit Crimes

The college experience for most of you will be a memory that you treasure.  Yet, recent articles in newspapers across the country tell a different story for some college students. These students will not treasure their college experience. These students not only suffered as victims of date/acquaintance rape, but as victims who were drugged so that they were easy targets. From the West coast to the East coast  reports of victimizations involving drugs has increased.  In response to these reports, Congress passed the Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996. This legislation increased Federal penalties for use of any controlled substance to aid in sexual assault.  If it can happen in Florida, if it can happen in Texas, if it can happen in Minnesota, or Massachusetts or Washington, can it  happen here?  Unfortunately, there have been reported cases in South Carolina.

1. Be aware of the drugs most commonly used to commit crimes: Rohypnol ("roofies", "forget pill," "Mexican Valium," "lunch money," "roach," "rope," "R-2," and the "date rape" drug)

  • GHB -  Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate  ("liquid ecstasy," "somatomax," "scoop," "Georgia Home Boys," "easy lay," or "grievous bodily harm")
  • The effects of both drugs are similar: dizziness, disorientation, impaired judgment, temporary paralysis, temporary loss of speech and memory loss.
  • These drugs are usually slipped into a drink (non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic) unnoticed by the victim.

2. Take preventative measures to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. NEVER:

  • accept drinks from anyone that you do not absolutely trust
  • drink beverages that you did not open yourself
  • leave your drink unattended
  • drink from a punch bowl
  • drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance
  • attend a social function without your designated driver AND a designated, trustworthy friend that will look out for your interests

3. If you suspect you are a victim of a drug-related rape, report your suspicion immediately to the appropriate law enforcement jurisdiction. Time is a critical factor in analyzing/tracing for drugs used to commit the sexual assault. Detection of a drug in the victim’s system depends on the person’s metabolism, the amount of drug consumed, and the length of time elapsed since the drug was injested.  Once the window of opportunity to detect the use of a drug has lapsed, the collection of evidence to prove a drug-related rape is gone.

4. Use of rohypnol/GHB or any drug to commit a crime of violence, including sexual assault, is punishable for up to 20 years imprisonment and fines.  The exact wording of Public Law 104-305 is as follows:

  • "PENALTIES FOR DISTRIBUTION. -
    (A) Whoever, with intent to commit a crime of violence, as defined in section 16 of title 18, United States Code (including rape), against an individual, violates subsection (a) by distributing a controlled substance to that individual without that individual’s knowledge, shall be imprisoned not more than 20 years and fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code. 
    (B) The term  'without the individual’s knowledge' means that the individual is unaware that a substance with the ability to alter that individual’s ability to appraise conduct or to decline participation in or communicate unwillingness to participate in conduct is administered to the individual."
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