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What is Date Rape?

"Date rape" is unlawful sexual intercourse committed during a social engagement between the rapist and victim. Force may or may not be present. Date rape often involves the offender creating conditions which make the victim more susceptible to rape including: using date rape drugs, planning the date in a secluded area, or inducing the victim to become excessively intoxicated. However, none of these factors are necessary for date rape; date rape is simply sexual intercourse without consent from all parties. The worst part about date rape is that it is often between people who know one another: friends, dates, boyfriends/girlfriends or acquaintances.

Common Date Rape Drugs

The most common date rape drug is alcohol. Date rape often happens when the rapist and/or victim are drinking heavily. As a result, both parties’ judgment tends to be compromised and the victim is often too inhibited to give proper consent or fight the rape. In many states, sex with a person who is too drunk to give consent is considered date rape.  

The following are other drugs that are commonly used in coordination with date rape since they easily dissolve in liquid and are difficult to detect:

  • Rohypnol: also referred to as "roofies"
    • Rohypnol is tasteless, colorless, and odorless and comes in pill form. It can be crushed into drinks and dissolves quickly
    • While not approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, Rohypnol is available in South America, Asia and Europe as a treatment for insomnia. It is commonly available on the street in the United States
    • Rohypnol is detectable in the blood stream for 24 hours and in urine for 48 hours
  • Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB): also called "liquid ecstasy"
    • GHB is a tasteless, colorless, and odorless liquid drug
    • GHB is an illegal drug
  • Ketamine Hydrochloride: or "Special K"
    • Ketamine is a legal liquid drug sold as a veterinary sedative
    • Ketamine is detectable in the system up to 48 hours depending upon the method of ingestion
  • Zolpidem (Ambien):
    • Zolpidem is a legal prescription sedative used to treat insomnia.
    • Zolpidem is a pill that dissolves readily in liquids and can be difficult to detect after 36 hours except through hair testing.

Issues Concerning Consent

One of the main areas of contention with date rape is the concept of consent. In many cases, the offender will claim that the person consented to sexual activity, thereby relieving them of liability for rape or sexual assault. Indeed, in some cases, the line between consensual and non-consensual conduct can be very difficult to distinguish when people are consenting to other forms of physical contact, such as kissing. This is true especially in cases where one or more parties is under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs.

Does Consent to Previous Intercourse Count as Consent?

No, consent to prior sexual intercourse or receiving consent after the act does not count as consent. It is common for victims in date rape scenarios to have had consensual sex with the defendant prior to the non-consensual sex. It is not unusual for victims to have consensual sex with the defendant after a non-consensual sex if the victim has no recollection of the latter. Sex must be consented to before each engagement of sexual intercourse.

What Obstacles May Prevent a Date Rape Case from Being Properly Prosecuted?

Due to the personal nature of date rape, victims are often reluctant to even report the crime, as they may not want to get their significant other or date in any sort of legal trouble. In addition, victims are often unsure if what occurred is even date rape, especially if alcohol or drugs prevents the victim from remembering everything that happened.

Once a victim does try to bring the case forward, the personal nature of the case often serves to delay or even derail the case. Many women abuse the legal system by reporting date rape against partners who are cheating, neglecting them, rejecting their advances, or breaking up with them. It does not take too much imagination for actual date rapists to use this abuse of the system as a defense for their own crimes.

What Can You Do If You Have Been or Think You Have Been Date Raped?

If you believe you are a victim of date rape, then contact the authorities and go to a medical doctor immediately. Medical centers can preserve evidence of rape. Traces of date rape drugs disappear quickly from the body so it is important to get medical attention immediately.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Date Rape Charges?

You may need to hire a qualified criminal lawyer in your area if you have been accused of or charged with date rape. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice so you can determine your rights and possible defenses. In addition, your attorney can gather physical evidence, interview witnesses, and represent you in court proceedings. If you believe you are a victim of date rape, then you must contact the local authorities and file a report.

Photo of page author John Kirby

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 09-28-2017 01:21 PM PDT

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