Bill aims to amend Prop 47 stance on date rape drugs


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State Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) has authored a bill that aims to close a loophole when it comes to date rape drugs in the voter approved Proposition 47.

Currently a person caught with a narcotic commonly referred to as date rape drugs, would be charged with a misdemeanor as under the guidelines of Prop 47. Calgiani’s Senate Bill 333 would restore the ability of district attorneys to pursue felony charges against individuals caught with the most common date rape drugs, including Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine. However, prosecutors will have to prove there was an intent to use the drug for a sexual assault.

The bill passed on a bipartisan vote of 37-0 on Thursday and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval.

“As prosecutors and law enforcement throughout California continue to deal with the fallout from Proposition 47, we appreciate Senator Galgiani’s efforts to protect our communities from predators who might otherwise escape serious consequences for their behavior when they engage in this sort of appalling criminal conduct,” said Mark Zahner, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association.

In November 2014, California voters passed Prop 47, which effectively reclassified many felonies as misdemeanors. The reclassified offenses include most drug offenses, petty thefts, forgeries, and grand thefts. Calgiani said the bill had an unintended loophole that could benefit sexual predators.

“When a ballot measure of this type is placed in front of voters, the potential for unintended consequences arise. I firmly believe that voters in California did not intend to weaken sexual assault statutes,” said Galgiani. “The malicious intent behind possessing and using ‘date rape’ drugs on another individual necessitates an aggressive response from law enforcement. Assaulting a person that has become incapacitated from being drugged is an especially despicable crime.”

“During my time here in Sacramento, both as an Assemblywoman and as a State Senator, this legislative body has been dedicated to spreading awareness and preventing sexual assault,” Galgiani continued. “Senate Bill 333 is an important step in protecting victims of sexual assault. I call on Governor Brown to please stand with women and sign this important public safety legislation.”

Calgiani’s bill is not the only one that has been introduced in an effort to fix some of the consequences of Prop 47. In February Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) introduced AB 390, which would have allowed for DNA collections of misdemeanor crimes. Law enforcement can collect DNA samples from individuals charged with a felony. AB 390 would enhance current law to include specified misdemeanor convictions subject to DNA sample database collection when such crimes are committed by adult offenders.

In July AB 390 failed on a 3-4 vote in the Senate Public Safety Committee. AB 390 is now a two-year bill and the Committee will reconsider the bill next year.

“I am disappointed that four Committee members failed to see that DNA evidence is an essential tool for district attorneys to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. It assists in preventing repeat serious violent offenders including murderers and rapists from re-offending,” Cooper said in a news release.

Source: http://www.turlockjournal.com/section/14/article/30154/


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