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“Spiked drink” law impacts enforcement, evidence, and defense

| Feb 27, 2021 | criminal law

There are many reasons criminal laws might be changed or updated in the state of North Carolina. In 2019, a combination of investigative reporting and public pressure led to a criminal law shift in the state, making the act of spiking a drink illegal regardless of whether it resulted in sexual assault. As police officers train to enforce the law, it is important that anyone in the criminal defense and legal system consider the this change and its implications. 

New law will increase testing of potentially “spiked” beverages 

Historically, law enforcement may have been hesitant to test drinks for illegal substances, especially in cases where no clear sexual assault occurred. This is because a conviction could not be achieved by simply testing a drink and proving in court that someone had “spiked” it with a substance. However, the legal shift in 2019 created an avenue for police to charge people for this act alone. 

Enhanced training needed to respond to changes 

This shift requires a change in perspective for many in law enforcement in North Carolina. Previously, drinks would only be tested as part of a sexual assault case. Now, the very act of drugging someone without his or her knowledge will be considered a crime. Expecting this to result in enhanced evidence collection involving liquids, police are taking additional training to ensure they have the skills to move forward on these cases. 

What to do when accused of spiking a drink 

This new law will not only result in additional investigations, but may also lead to arrests and charges. Individuals who are accused of such actions will likely be facing both physical evidence, such as the drink itself, as well as circumstantial evidence, such as being close to the drugged person at the time. It is important that someone accused of this consult with a North Carolina criminal lawyer to defend against any formal charges.