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Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Criminal Justice Implications

There are unique aspects to drug-facilitated rape that require tailored SART strategies during the criminal justice system process:

  • Victims may not be able to provide a complete account of the assault and may only have suspicions or have heard rumors that something happened to them.
  • How you interact with victims is crucial in determining their level of cooperation throughout the criminal justice process.
  • Voluntary drug consumption requires prosecutors to make careful charging decisions.

Successful investigations of drug-facilitated sexual assault cases depend on assessing many factors, including the voluntary use of drugs just before the assault. According to A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations17

Voluntary drug and/or alcohol use by patients during this period should not diminish the perceived seriousness of the assault. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors should guard against disqualifying cases in which patients voluntarily used illegal drugs or illegally used alcohol.

The National Protocol also advises that prosecutors18

  • Make sure that victims understand that their voluntary alcohol or drug use may be used against them in court but, in some instances, such use could help prosecutors prove lack of consent.
  • Consider the impact that threatening to charge victims for voluntarily using illegal substances may have, including victims' unwillingness to report assaults and cooperate with criminal justice proceedings.
Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996

The Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996 provides penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and fines for persons who intend to commit sexual assault by distributing a controlled substance to another individual without that individual's knowledge.

The U.S. military addresses victim misconduct (e.g., illegal consumption of alcohol or drugs) by enabling commanders and supervisors to delay any disciplinary actions against victims until after sexual assault allegations have been resolved.19

Read More

Prosecuting Alcohol-Facilitated Sexual Assault Discusses the prosecution of alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, focusing on voluntary intoxication. It begins with a basic overview of toxicology and addresses issues relating to charging decisions, credibility, and corroborations.

Practitioners' Manual—The Prosecution of Rohypnol and GHB Related Sexual Assaults (Available for order via NDAA Publications page) Serves as a quick reference for prosecutors and law enforcement on Rohypnol, GHB, and investigation and prosecution strategies.