SB 868, sponsored by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), unanimously passed senate floor vote.
The bill clarifies and creates consistency in statutes on what constitutes sexual battery upon a person impaired by drugs or alcohol. By this legislation, an offender commits the aggravated crime if the offender knows, or has reason to believe, the victim is mentally incapacitated due to the ingestion of drugs and or alcohol.
“Offenders who take advantage of someone’s incapacitation – whether they caused it or not – should be held accountable,” said Stewart.
The current law holds a standard penalty of a second degree felony for sexual battery if the offender did not provide the intoxicating drugs or alcohol. This bill creates uniformity by making the offense a first degree felony, the same as when an individual administers a substance and then sexually batters a mentally incapacitated person. Nothing in this legislation changes definitions of consent. The State is still required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim did not intelligently, knowingly and voluntarily consent.
“We want to make sure that there is consistency when prosecuting these instances of sexual assault, and we need to make it clear that rape is rape, regardless of the victim’s choice to become under the influence,” said Stewart.