California Penal Code § 4573.5 PC makes it a felony offense to bring contraband into a jail or state prison. Contraband includes alcohol and any drugs other than controlled substances (which are treated in another statute).
Examples of illegal acts under this statute include:
- police book Mark for a California DUI, and during the process, discover a flask filled with hard alcohol in his possession.
- a jail guard brings alcohol into jail facilities and tries selling it to inmates.
- Janine brings several over-the-counter medications onto prison grounds during visiting hours and tries to give them to her husband.
Luckily, there are several legal defenses. These include showing that you:
- did not have contraband;
- acted without knowledge; and/or,
- acted under duress.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will explain the following in this article:
- 1. What are the consequences of bringing contraband into a jail or prison?
- 2. What are the best defenses to Penal Code 4573.5 PC?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Related offenses
1. What are the consequences of bringing contraband into a jail or prison?
Penal Code § 4573.5 is the California statute that makes it a crime to knowingly bring contraband into a jail or prison.1
- alcohol, and
- any drugs, other than controlled substances.2
Examples of the latter are:
- over-the-counter medications, and
- medications that are prescribed to treat medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
2. What are the best defenses to Penal Code 4573.5 PC?
You can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense.
Three common defenses are:
- It wasn’t contraband;
- You didn’t know it was there; and/or,
- You acted under duress.
2.1. It wasn’t contraband
4573.5 PC only prohibits bringing contraband into a jail or prison. Therefore, it is always a defense to show that while you may have brought something into a jail, it was not contraband
2.2. You didn’t know it was there
You are only guilty under this statute if you knowingly brought contraband into a jail/prison. Therefore, you cannot be guilty of a crime if you did not know you were bringing contraband into prison.
2.3. You acted under duress
Duress is a legal defense in which you basically say: “He made me do it.” The defense applies to the very limited situation in which you commit a crime (here, bringing contraband into prison), because somebody threatened to kill you if the crime was not committed.
3. What are the penalties?
A violation of PC 4573.5 is a felony under California law.3
The crime is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for:
- 16 months,
- two years, or
- three years.4
In lieu of jail time, a judge may award felony or formal probation.
4. Related Offenses
There are four crimes related to bringing contraband into a jail. These are:
- bringing drugs into a jail or prison – PC 4573;
- alcohol at a public educational facility – BPC 25608;
- rescuing a prisoner – PC 4550; and
- possessing drugs in a jail or prison – PC 4573.6.
4.1. Bringing contraband into a jail or prison – PC 4573
Penal Code 4573 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to knowingly bring a controlled substance into a jail or prison.5
A “controlled substance” is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession and use are regulated by the government under the United States “Controlled Substances Act”.
- heroin, and
A violation of PC 4573 is charged as a felony. The offense is punishable by up to four years in a county jail.6
4.2. Alcohol at a public educational facility – BPC 25608
Business and Professions Code 25608 is the California statute that makes it a crime to bring alcohol into a public schoolhouse, or on the grounds of the same.
A violation of BPC 25608 is charged as a misdemeanor.7 The crime is punishable by:
- imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months; and/or,
- a maximum fine of $1,000.8
4.3. Rescuing a prisoner – PC 4550
California Penal Code 4550 PC makes it a crime to rescue, help in rescuing, or attempt to rescue a prisoner of the state.
A violation of PC 4550 is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not to exceed four years.9
4.4. Possessing drugs in jail/prison – PC 4573.6
California Penal Code 4573.6 PC makes it a crime to knowingly possess controlled substances in a jail or prison.
A violation of PC 4573.6 is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by two, three, or four years behind bars.10
For additional assistance…
If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 4573.5 PC, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.
(For similar charges in Colorado, please see our article on: Introducing Contraband to a Jail or Prison Colorado CRS 18-8-203. And, for similar charges in Nevada, please see our article on: Nevada Laws for “Prohibited Items for Prisoners” NRS 212.160; NRS 212.165; NRS 212.180.)
- California Penal Code 4573.5 PC. This code section states: Any person who knowingly brings into any state prison or other institution under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections, or into any prison camp, prison farm, or any other place where prisoners or inmates of these institutions are located under the custody of prison or institution officials, officers, or employees, or into any county, city and county, or city jail, road camp, farm or any other institution or place where prisoners or inmates are being held under the custody of any sheriff, chief of police, peace officer, probation officer, or employees, or within the grounds belonging to any institution or place, any alcoholic beverage, any drugs, other than controlled substances, in any manner, shape, form, dispenser, or container, or any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia intended to be used for unlawfully injecting or consuming any drug other than controlled substances, without having authority so to do by the rules of the Department of Corrections, the rules of the prison, institution, camp, farm, place, or jail, or by the specific authorization of the warden, superintendent, jailer, or other person in charge of the prison, jail, institution, camp, farm, or place, is guilty of a felony. The prohibitions and sanctions addressed in this section shall be clearly and prominently posted outside of, and at the entrance to, the grounds of all detention facilities under the jurisdiction of, or operated by, the state or any city, county, or city and county.” See also People v. Rouser 1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 1065; People v. Gutierrez (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 380; People v. Spann (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 400; People v. Superior Court (Ortiz) (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 995; People v. Davis (2013) 57 Cal.4th 353; People v. Barnes (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 552;People v. Seale (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 107; People v. Carter (1981) 117 Cal.App.3d 546; People v. George (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 262; People v. Fenton (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 965; People v. Carrasco (1981) 118 Cal.App.3d 936; People v. Palaschak (1995) 9 Cal.4th 1236; People v. Rowland (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 61; People v. Mower (2002) 28 Cal.4th 457; People v. George (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 262; People v. Cardenas (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 240.
- See same.
- See same.
- See same. See also California Penal Code 18 PC. See also People v. Noyan (Cal. App. 3d Dist. 2014), 232 Cal. App. 4th 657; People v. Torres (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2011), 198 Cal. App. 4th 329; People v. Ford (1959) 175 Cal.App.2d 37; People v. Wolfe (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 177.
- California Penal Code 4573 PC.
- See same.
- California Business and Professions Code 25608 BPC.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 4550 PC.
- California Penal Code 4573.6 PC.