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Local senator seeks to classify rape of an intoxicated person a violent felony
• Wants to close a loophole of Prop. 57
Alvarado Gil portrait
State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil

Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson) is authoring Senate Bill 268 aimed at reclassifying the rape of an intoxicated person as a violent felony if the defendant caused the intoxication of the victim in order to assault them.

In California, raping a person who can’t give consent, either because they are drugged or disabled is not considered a violent felony. The situation developed when voters passed Proposition 57 in 2016 to allow criminals charged with non-violent felonies the opportunity to get out of prison earlier. But the proposition did not label all types of rape as violent.

Alvarado-Gil said that while some senators may be concerned about adding “another strike to the Three Strikes law and prison overcrowding and I too share that concern, however, we must protect victims here in California and not give criminals more rights.”

Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). An estimated 70% of sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement.

Anabel Velasquez, a woman who was sexually assaulted after intentional intoxication, advocates for the bill’s passage.

“SB 268 underscores the seriousness of this crime and can be a deterrent for perpetrators moving forward,” said Velasquez. “This bill will empower survivors like me and validate our experiences, making us feel valued as survivors. My perpetrators destroyed me physically and emotionally – I would have gotten a piece of me back had SB 268 been in effect at my time.”

Alvarado-Gil emphasized the importance of this legislation, saying “it’s imperative that we provide equitable justice for victims of sexual assault. By classifying rape of an intoxicated person as a violent felony, we are sending a clear message that this heinous crime will not be tolerated in our society.”

In recent years, the California Legislature increased sentencing enhancements of perpetrators convicted of spousal rape to mirror those convicted of non-spousal rape. The Legislature also repealed the penal code section that previously defined the offense of spousal rape to reflect the principle that all forms of rape are now recognized as such, irrespective of the relationship between the offender and the victim.

“The current message our criminal justice system sends is if you intentionally plan to rape someone by using alcohol or drugs to impede their ability to say no, that’s somehow better than raping them by force,” stated May Rico, executive director for Healthy Alternatives to Violent Environments (HAVEN). “The time of victim-blaming survivors of drug and alcohol-facilitated assault should be long behind us. The removal of this bias from the law is long overdue.”