NC NOW Legislative Update #8 – 25 March 2019 – Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws

See whole legislative update at NC NOW Legislative Update #8.

This week [ending March 22, 2019] saw important actions on bills pertaining to sexual assault and rape.  SB46 (identical to HB29) passed out of the Judiciary Committee and now is in the Senate Rules Committee.  This bill appropriates funds to begin testing of the backlog of untested rape kits.  The bill will need to be heard by the Appropriations Committee, where it will be considered for inclusion in the budget.

North Carolina is the only state that does not permit a woman to revoke consent once sex has begun.  Senator Jeff Jackson has repeatedly introduced legislation to correct this omission in our law, and he has indicated that he will try again this session. He believes that this time the legislation has a real chance of passing.  His bill has not yet been introduced.

An important bill (HB393, Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws) has been introduced to tighten North Carolina law concerning how sexual assault is defined and prosecuted and to increase the chance that prosecution could result in a conviction. 

Under current law it is not possible to prosecute someone for administering a “date rape” drug in a beverage.  There is a law, prompted by placing harmful objects in Halloween candy, that would allow prosecution if the incapacitating substance were put into food, but not into a drink.  This proposed law closes that loophole, by including drink as well as food.

Current law also defines sexual activity with an incapacitated person as sexual assault or rape, but defines incapacitation as someone rendered “substantially incapable” due to a poison or controlled substance administered to the victim without knowledge or consent.”  A court has ruled that this law, as written, does not protect victims who were incapacitated by their own voluntary actions.  Under current North Carolina law, a defendant can legally take advantage of a victim too drunk to consent (even unconscious) provided the victim became intoxicated voluntarily.  With a few revisions, this law would close that loophole. 

A loophole in charging caregivers with sexual assault of a child is also closed by redefining “caregiver,” and the term “forcible” is removed from various definitions of “sexual assault.” 

The bill has bipartisan primary sponsors and has numerous co-sponsors.  It is expected to easily pass the House, but may have a harder time in the Senate.  No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.  For more information, see:

 See whole report at NC NOW Legislative Update #8.25Mar19.v2


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