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Sex, Drugs, and Criminal Charges

Sex, Drugs, and Criminal Charges

Unreliable date rape drug testing and a lack of solid evidence can make it difficult to prove drug-facilitated sexual assaults occurred.

Dangerous Date Rape Drugs

Date rape drugs have sedative properties that cause victims to experience unconsciousness and amnesia. Most drugs are odorless, tasteless, and colorless and dissolve easily in alcohol and other beverages within 30 minutes. Commonly used date rape drugs include over-the-counter drugs like tranquilizers and sleeping pills and various prescription medications including Rohypnol (roofies), Ketamine (special K), Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL). Drugs are available in pills, liquids, and powders that are easily accessible to perpetrators through illegal street drugs.

Accusers of date rape may have a difficult time proving that sexual assault occurred unless there’s strong physical evidence. There are often no witnesses to the alleged crime, and accusers can have little or no memory of what happened. Some date rape drugs leave the body very quickly, so waiting to report an incident or get medical attention can destroy evidence that a crime has been committed.

Date Rape Testing Flaws

Toxicology testing that confirms exposure to drugs or alcohol is an important factor in claiming sexual assault. In a recent investigation by BuzzFeed News, significant irregularities were shown in date rape testing procedures in state crime labs and hospitals across the country. There is no national testing standard for the range of drugs to be tested, which types of screens should be used, or drug levels that result in positive findings. In the United States, there are currently over 100 known substances now used in date rape assaults, and toxicologists are having difficulty keeping up with sufficient testing procedures.

Research in date rape drug testing shows that many labs only test blood, but evidence of drugs last much longer in urine. In some labs, testing equipment is not sensitive enough to detect even low levels of drugs, so lab results commonly reveal negative results. Other labs rely entirely on drug screening procedures proven to be completely unreliable by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

A positive urine test showing evidence of drugs is not always sufficient to support sexual assault charges. A positive urine test only proves that the person was likely exposed to the drug within five days prior to the drug test. It does not show how the accuser came to be exposed to the substance.

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