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Date Rape in Florida

Date Rape in Florida

When people hear the term “date rape” they most likely associate it with pop culture references from TV or movies. Date rape is so named for the unfortunate trend of individuals committing sexual battery while on dates. The most commonly known scenario involves an alleged offender sneaking an incapacitating drug into a person’s drink.

Date rape charges occur most often among high school and college students, and is particularly prevalent on college campuses, where partying, drinking, and drug use create potentially dangerous situations.

Regarding date rape and other sexual assault charges, understanding the definition of consent is imperative.

What is Consent?

The question of consent often arises in Florida sex crimes cases. Consent can be the determining factor between being charged with sexual battery and having sexual assault charges dismissed.

Consent is defined by the Florida Statute Section 794.011 as “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission. Consent shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the offender.”

Often in a sexual battery case, consent—or lack thereof—is one of the main sources of evidence that will try to be proven by the State.  If you or someone you know has been accused of a sexual offense, it is imperative to seek out legal advice from a skilled professional.

Sex Crime Lawyer for Date Rape in Tallahassee, FL

If you or someone you know in Tallahassee, Florida, specifically in Leon County, who has been charged or is under investigation for date rape, contact the experienced defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law.

Being investigated for sexual assault can seriously damage a person’s reputation in his or her community. Being charged with sexual battery can result in serious life altering consequences, including changing where you may be allowed to live or visit.

The lawyers at Pumphrey Law have experience litigating throughout Leon County courtrooms; from understanding the proper arguments to procedure, our attorneys are experienced.

Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to receive a free, one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys.

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What is Date Rape?

Date rape is a type of sexual battery. Sexual battery means “anal, oral, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.” The sexual battery definition does not include acts done for a bona fide medical purpose.

Thus, to prove sexual battery, the State of Florida must prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant committed an act upon the victim in which either
    • the sexual organs of the defendant penetrated or had union with the vagina, mouth, or anus of the victim; or
    • the anus, or vagina of the victim was penetrated by an object; and
  • The victim was physically helpless to resist, or
    • The defendant coerced the victim to submit by threatening to use force or violence likely to cause serious personal injury to the victim and the victim reasonably believed the defendant had the present ability to execute the threat; or
    • The defendant coerced the victim to submit by threat of retaliation against the victim or any other person and the victim reasonably believed that the defendant had the ability to execute the threat in the future; or
    • The defendant, without the prior knowledge or consent of the victim, administered or had knowledge of someone else administering to the victim, a narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance that mentally or physically incapacitated the victim; or
    • The victim was mentally defective and the defendant had reason to believe this or had actual knowledge of that fact;
    • The defendant was at the time of the incident, an official or in a position, as a certified law enforcement official or person in control at a probation officer, community control, or similar office, and the defendant was acting in such a manner as to lead the victim to reasonably believe that the defendant was in a position of control or authority as an agent or employee of the government; or
    • The victim is physically incapacitated; and
  • The defendant’s act was committed without the victim’s consent; 
  • The age of the defendant; and
  • The age of the victim.

The Florida sexual battery statute requires that the State prove both the defendant and the victim’s age because the statute charges the sexual assault of a person differently based on the age of the victim and the offender.

Common Date Rape Drugs/Substances

When a person is accused of rape, it often involves the allegation that the offender took advantage of the victim without their consent while they are unconscious or incoherent about what is happening. In some cases, the defendant has been accused of facilitating the assault by secretly giving the victim substances to incapacitate them.

Some of the more common substances used in date rape cases are as follows:

  • Rohypnol (Roofies) – The most common date rape drug is Rohypnol, a strong benzodiazepine that has been used in other countries to help reduce insomnia. However, it is illegal in the U.S. due to its powerful side effects and its common use as the “date rape drug.” The substance has also been referred to as “The Forget Pill,” “Circles,” and “La Rocha.” Rohypnol comes in a pill form that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and can very easily dissolve into liquid—making it extremely easy for offenders to discreetly incapacitate their victims. Roofies can start having effects on the body within 30 minutes of ingesting, and most likely peaks within two hours. A dose as low as 1mg can have lasting effects for up to 8 hours. Mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can create extreme drowsiness and amnesia to its consumers.
  • Ketamine (Special ‘K’) – Ketamine is commonly associated as a “horse tranquilizer” but can also be used as a potent, dissociative anesthetic medication. Also referred to as “Vitamin K,” “Kitty,” “Kit Kat,” or “Cat Valium.” The substance can be sold illegally as a clear liquid or white powder form—both of which can easily be mixed into a person’s drink. Some may find ketamine cut with other illicit substances such as cocaine or MDMA. Ketamine can start having effects on the body within 1-30 minutes and last up to an hour. Common side effects include sedation, pain relief, amnesia, and dissociation. Higher doses of ketamine can leave a person unable to move or unconscious.
  • Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) – GHB can be used as a prescription drug to manage narcolepsy. Often referred to as “G,” “Liquid X,” or “Goop” on the streets, people use GHB illegally for recreational use for its drowsy effects. GHB can be found in both liquid and powder forms. It is odorless, colorless, and can easily be masked with other substances or liquids. GHB can start having effects on the body within 10-20 minutes and last up to four hours. Common side effects when mixed with alcohol include sedation and memory loss.

While all three substances have similar depressant effects, it can affect each person differently. When mixed with alcohol, it can become dangerous to the person ingesting it. In addition to the substances listed above, American Addiction Centers stated that almost half of all sexual assault cases involve alcohol consumption by either the offender, the victim, or both.

Important: Consuming alcohol is not an excuse for sexual assault and cannot be used as a defense in a date rape case.

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Penalties for Sexual Battery

The Florida Statute § 794.011(5)(b) states that a person 18 years or older who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older, without that person’s consent, and without physical force and violence commits a second-degree felony.

Aggravated Penalties for Sexual Battery

The penalties for sexual assault increase in severity under certain specified circumstances:

  • A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon a person 18 years of age or older, without the person’s consent under specified circumstances commits a first-degree felony.
  • If an individual commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older, without that person’s consent, under any specified circumstance and he or she has previously been convicted of a violation under Subsection (d)(1) commits a first-degree felony
  • A person who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older, without that person’s consent, and in the process thereof uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon or uses actual physical force likely to cause serious personal injury commits a life felony.
  • A person younger than 18 who commits a sexual battery upon a person under 12 yearsof age commits a life felony.

A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years and up to $10,000 fines.

A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years and up to $10,000 fines.

A life felony is punishable by life or at least 30 years and up to $15,000 fines.

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Date Rape on College Campuses

Sexual assault can take place at any time, by any person. However, one of the most common environments in which sexual offenses occur is at college and university campuses. When young students enter college, they are at a formative time in their lives, most likely starting to experiment with sex, drugs, and alcohol. This combination can lead to potentially dangerous situations for young women—and even young men. College students who experience sexual assault may have been at the hands of alcohol, or when the accused person spiked a drink with a “date rape” drug. In such instances, the offender has created a situation in which the victim is vulnerable or unaware of what is happening.

Sexual violence is more prevalent than any other crime on college campuses. This fact becomes important as students enter college at Florida State University, and other schools across Florida, such as the University of Florida, USF, and FAMU.

Such instances are becoming more and more prevalent in Florida universities. The following is a list of statistics from RAINN on date rape in Florida:

  • Approximately 13% of all college students experience some type of sexual assault or rape by physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
  • For undergraduate students, an estimated 26.4% of female students and 6.8% of males experience sexual assault or rape by physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
  • For graduate students, an estimated 9.7% of females and 2.5% of males experience sexual assault or rape by physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
  • Male college students between the ages of 18-24 are 78% more likely to experience sexual assault or rape than non-college students.
  • Female college students between the ages of 18-24 are 20% less likely to experience sexual assault or rape than non-college students.
  • Over 50% of sexual assault cases on a college campus happen during the months of August, September, October, or November.
  • Students who are in their first or second semester are at a higher risk of sexual assault or rape.
  • Between 2015 and 2019, nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent increased by 3% for undergraduate women, 2.4% for graduate/professional women, and 1.4% for undergraduate men.

Additionally, students and parents of college students should be aware that 86% of all sworn campus law enforcement officers have legal authority to make off-campus arrests. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, agencies that serve at campuses with 5,000 or more college students have specifically designated programs and services for the campus community. More than two-thirds of the agencies have programs to address the following:

  • General Crime Prevention (91%)
  • General Rape Prevention (86%)
  • Date Rape Prevention (84%)
  • Self-Defense Training (76%)
  • Stalking (75%)
  • Victim Assistance (72%)
  • Domestic Violence (79%)

Defenses to Date Rape Allegations

Accusations of sexual offenses will be harshly prosecuted in Florida. A person who is accused of date rape can face life-altering consequences. While each accusation of date rape should be taken extremely seriously, that does not necessarily mean every allegation is true. The following is a list of potential defenses for a person accused of date rape and charged with sexual battery:

Consent

In date rape cases, the allegation may stem from the alleged victim forgetting that consent was given, and/or feel a sense of remorse after the sexual engagement occurred. Consent can be used as a defense as long as the alleged victim is 18-years-old or older. In cases where the alleged victim is a minor, consent is not considered a valid defense.

Mistaken Identity

There is the possibility that the victim accused the wrong individual of date rape. Mistaken identity can be used as a defense, and DNA evidence or testimonial evidence can be used to prove so.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

During any part of the investigation, if the defendant’s constitutional rights have been violated, constitutional challenges can be used as a defense in a date rape case.

Factual Challenge

It is the responsibility of the State to prove the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. A factual challenge can be used as a defense in a date rape case if the defendant claims the sexual act never took place or if the evidence cannot prove that sexual battery took place.

Mutual Lack of Consent

In cases in which both parties were unable to consent—due to being under the influence and not sober enough to offer consent—mutual lack of consent can be used as a defense.

In order to determine what defenses are valid to your specific case, we highly advise speaking with a sex crime defense lawyer in your area.

New Florida Law for Rape Kits

In July 2021, a new law was established by Florida Legislature to require new regulations regarding sexual offense evidence kits. Also known as “rape kits,” the package contains items used to gather DNA evidence after someone has reported that they were sexually assaulted or raped.

The new law was passed under HB 673 and titled “Gail’s Law” to honor a Florida resident who waited over 30 years for the results of her rape kit. Gail Gardner was sexually battered in 1988 when a man broke into her home and raped her at knifepoint.

HB 673 is an amendment to Florida Statute Section 943.326, which will now require Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to create a tracking database for rape kits with evidence of sexual offenses. Now rape kits will have barcodes placed on them, in which the victims of sexual offenses can view and login to the tracking website to keep up with the testing and analysis of the kit.

Pertaining to a date rape allegation, Gail’s Law will allow any alleged victim of date rape to follow along with the information from the evidence provided in the sexual assault forensic exam. Whereas many sexual assault victims previously waited an extended period of time for results, HB 673 aims to provide a quicker and more efficient way to analyze evidence from sexual offenses in Florida. According to End the Backlog, there were 13,435 untested rape kits in Florida during 2105. That being said, it is highly likely that evidence from a rape kit will be used as a main source of evidence in a sexual offense case.

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Additional Resources

  • Stat. § 794.011 – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature for more information about the types of aggravated circumstances that enhance sexual battery penalties. Also, find more information on the specified circumstances and useful definitions under the Florida statute for sexual battery.
  • Date Rape Drugs
    Visit Project GHB is a website that provides vital information about the dangerousness of the drug gamma hydroxyl butyrate (GHB). GHB is the drug often associated with sexual assault, including other drugs like MDMA and Ketamine (Special K). Project GHB provides information on “Goodnight Cinderella” that discusses the dangerousness of the drug cocktail GHB-Ketamine-Flunitrazapam (also known as roofies) and it provides information about the victim visitation drug program and the “invisible victim.”
  • Florida State University Date Rape Drug Information – Visit Florida State University’s official website for more information on GHB, and other street drugs that are often used as a catalyst for date rape. The website also provides resources about alcohol and sexual assault from other universities, information about the signs of a healthy relationship, and directions the FSU police department website.
  • FAMU Regulations and Title IX

Visit Florida A&M University’s official page on regulations regarding sexual harassment, discrimination, and misconduct that occurs by students or professors on campus.

  • TCC District Board of Trustees POLICY – Tallahassee Community College’s official page covering rules and regulations on equal opportunity, discrimination, sexual misconduct, and harassment that occurs on campus by students and teachers.

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Find a Lawyer for Date Rape in Leon County, FL

Being investigated for date rape can not only ruin your reputation, but you could be expelled from school, prevented from applying for housing and other government assistance, and also be limited in the places you may go.

When facing false allegations or misunderstandings, these kinds of consequences can be dire. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your options.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are experienced litigators who practice criminal law throughout North Florida in places like Tallahassee, Bristol, Monticello, Midway, Quincy, and other areas near Leon County, FL.

Call Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 now to schedule a free, confidential, consultation about the facts surrounding your case.


Article Updated on January 30, 2023

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