Date rape refers to rape that occurs during the course of a date. However, other than that single distinction, date rape is no less severe than rape by a stranger. Rape, regardless of who commits it, is a sex crime and carries significant penalties in North Carolina. If a person uses a date rape drug to commit the act, he or she may face drug charges in addition to sexual assault charges.

According to FindLaw, “date rape drug” is the laymen’s term for three types of drugs: Rohypnol, Ketamine and GHB. The strength of these various narcotics varies, as do the side effects. Because of this, states and the federal government classify them differently. Which drug a person possesses and/or uses will dictate his or her punishment.

Possession of one of the three date rape drugs may result in federal or state charges. Just like at the state level, the federal courts will consider the strength of the drug and the harm it caused the victim. For instance, the federal courts punish the possession of Rohypnol is by sentencing the offender up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Federal punishments are often much more severe than state-level penalties.

Pitt Community College briefly outlines the classification of the three most common date rape drugs and their penalties. Per the website, GHB is a Schedule I drug and is on par with heroin, Peyote and other opiates. It has no medical use, lacks accepted safety standards and has a high potential for abuse. Possession of this drug is a class one felony and carries a prison sentence between four and five months long, even for first-time offenders.

Ketamine is a Schedule III drug. This means it possesses some level for abuse, but it has an accepted medical use. Possession of this drug without a prescription may result in a class one felony charge. A first offense is punishable by up to 45 days in jail. A second offense may result in four to five months in jail.

Rohypnol is a Schedule IV drug. Rohypnol is in the same class as Vicodin, Xanax and Clonazepam. It has a low potential for abuse and accepted medical uses. Possession of this drug without a prescription is a class one misdemeanor and punishable by up to 45 days in jail. A second offense is a class one felony and punishable by up to five months in prison.