Possession or Distribution of Date Rape Drugs

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer - Anthony N. Palumbo

New Jersey and federal laws provide severe penalties for date rape drug offenses. Even if the drugs weren't used to facilitate illegal sexual conduct or any other crimes, simply possessing date rape drugs without a valid prescription can result in steep fines and lengthy prison sentences.

If you've been arrested for possessing, distributing, or manufacturing date rape drugs, or for possession with intent to distribute, the best thing that you can do to is to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer who can help you to understand the charges you're facing and the chances for having them reduced or dismissed. If you need an attorney, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, through the email form on my website or at 1-866-664-8118 for a free initial consultation. As a former prosecutor and a current criminal defense attorney with more than 35 years of experience, I know how to fight date rape drug charges and I can help make sure your charges are dismissed or you receive the lightest possible penalty in your case.

What are date rape drugs?

Date rape drugs, including gamma hydroxybutyrate (also known as GHB) and flunitrazepam (also known as Rohypnol or roofies), are used to assist in the commission of sexual assaults due to their sedative, anesthetic, hypnotic, dissociative, and/or amnesiac effects. The drugs can be easily slipped into a victim's drink and after being ingested they make the victim appear drunk or inebriated, which gives the offender an opportunity to escort the victim to a private place and then commit the sexual assault. Victims may be unconscious while the sexual assault is occurring or they may have only a poor memory of the incident when the drugs wear off. Unfortunately, date rape drugs can also cause serious side effects such as respiratory depression, coma, or death, especially when administered in large doses or with alcohol.

GHB and Rohypnol are classified as controlled dangerous substances (CDS) under New Jersey and federal drug laws. Although GHB can be prescribed for medical uses, Rohypnol has not been approved as a pharmaceutical in the United States. In addition to being used to facilitate date rapes, GHB and Rohypnol have been used to assist in the commission of thefts and other crimes. Both drugs are also used recreationally.

Penalties for using or possessing date rape drugs

It's a third degree crime in New Jersey for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain or possess GHB or Rohypnol unless the substance was obtained pursuant to a valid prescription. In addition to a jail sentence of 3 to 5 years, a conviction for possessing these drugs can result in a fine of up to $100.000.

Penalties for the unlawful possession of GHB or Rohypnol under federal law include up to a year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000, except that if the defendant has a prior drug conviction, the sentence of imprisonment must be between 15 days and 2 years and the minimum fine is $2,500, and if the defendant has two or more prior drug convictions, the sentence of imprisonment must be between 90 days and 3 years and the minimum fine is $5,000.

Distributing and manufacturing date rate drugs

Under New Jersey law, it's a second degree crime to knowingly or purposely manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess GHB with an intent to distribute. Penalties include 5 to 10 years imprisonment and up to $150,000 in fines.

It's also a second degree offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years imprisonment and up to $150,000 in fines, to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess less than a gram of Rohypnol with an intent to distribute. When the amount involved is more than a gram, the crime is upgraded to a first degree offense and carries penalties of 10 to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Under federal law, the manufacture and distribution of GHB or at least 1 gram of Rohypnol is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, unless death or serious bodily injury results, in which case the penalty must be at least 20 years but no more than life imprisonment. Convictions also carry a fine of up to $1 million if the defendant is an individual and up to $5 million if the defendant is other than an individual.

In addition to these penalties, it's a separate offense under federal law to use the internet to distribute a date rape drug to another person when there's reasonable cause to believe that the drug will be used in the commission of criminal sexual conduct and that the purchaser doesn't have a valid prescription or a license to dispense pharmaceuticals. Violations of this law are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Other consequences

In addition to date rape drug charges, a defendant who uses GHB, Rohypnol, or any other date rape drug to commit a sex offense can also be charged for the underlying sex crime. Under New Jersey law, committing an act of sexual penetration when the offender knows or should know that the victim is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated is considered first degree aggravated sexual assault, which carries a penalty of 10 to 20 years in prison. If the offender commits an act of sexual contact under these circumstances it's considered third degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, which carries a penalty of 3 to 5 years imprisonment.

Getting the Defense You Deserve

If you've been charged with a date rape drug offense, a New Jersey CDS defense lawyer can help get your charges reduced or possibly dismissed. Establishing that a sexual assault was facilitated with the use of GHB or Rohypnol, for instance, can be difficult for the prosecution to prove if the victim didn't receive prompt drug tests following the incident. There may also be constitutional defenses available in your case, such as violations of your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

For a free and confidential consultation with an experienced drug charges defense lawyer, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney and partner at the law firm of Palumbo & Renaud, through the email form on my website or at 1-866-664-8118. I've been defending individuals against drug charges for almost four decades, and as a longstanding member of the legal community, a former prosecutor, and a current criminal defense attorney, I can give you an honest assessment of the penalties you face and the best possible avenues of relief.

Palumbo & Renaud is a criminal defense law firm that represents individuals throughout New Jersey, including Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County and Union County.

More information about Drug Offenses: