Bipartisan Effort Unveiled to Combat Date-Rape Induced Sexual Assaults & Address Prop. 47 Oversights

Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) held a press conference today to announce their bipartisan coalition to address the weakening of state sexual assault laws caused by the passage of Proposition 47. Prop. 47 significantly reduced the penalty for illegal possession of drugs commonly used to facilitate sexual assaults—frequently referred to as “date-rape” drugs. Galgiani and Lackey have introduced legislation to give California voters the opportunity to undo this change and send a strong message to criminals that possessing date rape drugs will result in significant punishment.

“Across the Nation, and certainly in California, the public and law enforcement are focused on addressing the epidemic of sexual assault crimes, especially those committed on or near college campuses,” said Nancy E. O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney.  “Too often, sex offenders drug victims to render them incapacitated, powerless, and vulnerable.  AB 46 makes possession of “date rape drugs” a wobbler and for registered sex offenders a felony, this vital change in the law would hold an offender accountable at a level commensurate with crime committed.”

Prior to Prop. 47, District Attorneys were able to charge a felony for illegal possession of these drugs but current law now allows only for minimal punishment. The ability to bring felony charges was a critical tool for ensuring justice where lack of admissible evidence can allow a perpetrator to evade punishment even if a serious crime has clearly occurred.

“We should not wait for women to be victimized before serious charges are available to prosecutors,” said Senator Galgiani. “A person found in possession of these drugs is likely intending to use them to commit a sexual assault—not for personal use. Law enforcement must be able to charge a person accordingly.”

Senator Galgiani and Assemblyman Lackey have introduced SB 333 and AB 46 respectively to restore prosecutorial discretion to bring felony charges for crimes involving illegal possession of date rape drugs. If passed by the Legislature, voters would have a chance to restore this discretion in the next statewide election.

“We are not seeking to unravel Prop. 47, but instead want to give voters an opportunity to make its implementation work without needlessly endangering the public,” said Assemblyman Lackey. “I hope the Legislature will act and ensure that the law treats date rape drugs—such as Rohypnol and GHB—as tools of sexual assault that deserve significant punishment.”