CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new report of a drink being spiked at a local bar is highlighting loopholes in North Carolina law.
Police said a 22-year-old woman had an unknown substance added to her drink in Plaza Midwood. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police told NBC Charlotte they’re not investigating it as a crime right now, because there’s not a clear law.
Last year, the NBC Charlotte Defenders team uncovered gaps in state law when it comes to drugging drinks. Our investigation led to a new state law, which clearly defined the crime of date rape.
However, now there’s new legislation that would take it a step further by making spiking a drink a felony in and of itself.
For the first time, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather sat down with NBC Charlotte to talk about the issue. He said the legislation makes it easier to hold people accountable for spiking someone’s drink.
In the latest case, a 22-year-old woman said a suspect added an unknown substance to her drink in a Plaza Midwood bar on August 30, according to the police report.
Officers responded to the hospital for a sexual assault call, but CMPD said they’re still investigating what happened. NBC Charlotte is not naming the bar since there is no criminal investigation.
This comes after Leah McGuirk went public with her story last year. McGuirk told NBC Charlotte her drink was spiked at a bar in the Epicentre in uptown.
"It leaves you feeling like you’re in no man’s land as a victim," McGuirk previously told NBC Charlotte.
After McGuirk shared her story, the NBC Charlotte Defenders team uncovered loopholes in state law.
NBC Charlotte learned that law enforcement referred to a statute designed to include crimes like tampering with a child’s Halloween candy, but that statute did not say anything about spiked drinks or date rape.
When the Defenders team brought the issue to State Representative Chaz Beasley, he took action.
"I learned about this issue from your reporting," Beasley previously told NBC Charlotte.
Last year, Beasley introduced legislation the governor signed into law. The legislation clearly defined the crime of date rape by changing the definition of mental incapacitation to include situations where someone is drugged.
This year, Representative Beasley introduced House Bill 393, which would make spiking someone’s drink a felony in and of itself.
"Right now, we have a statute that makes drugging or adding some sort of foreign substance to someone’s food illegal and this expands that to make sure drinks are also included," Representative Beasley previously said.
"This really modernizes our laws," McGuirk previously told NBC Charlotte.
Merriweather talked to NBC Charlotte about the impact of the legislation.
“Representative Beasley has done extraordinary work,” he said. "Making it easier for district attorneys’ offices across our state to hold people accountable."
HB 393 passed the North Carolina House and has now moved onto the Senate. Beasley told NBC Charlotte the elements of HB 393 could be combined into a larger piece of legislation. He said he’s hopeful the new legislation will pass.
NBC Charlotte also reached out to North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. A spokesman for his office said they’re actively having conversations about the legislation.