Penal Code 4573 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to bring a controlled substance into a jail or the California state prison.
Examples of illegal acts under this statute include:
- during visiting hours, Nia brings a bag of cocaine into jail and tries to give it to her boyfriend.
- Sam's friend is in state prison and Sam sends him a letter with Vicodin in it.
- a jail guard brings codeine into jail facilities and tries selling it to inmates.
Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under Penal Code 4573. These include showing that an accused party:
- was authorized to bring a controlled substance;
- acted without knowledge; and/or,
- did not have a controlled substance.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1.The legal definition of bringing drugs into a jail or prison
- 2. Legal defenses to PC 4573 accusations
- 3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing
- 4. Related offenses
1. The legal definition of bringing drugs into a jail or prison
Penal Code 4573 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to knowingly bring or send controlled substances into a jail or prison.1
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
2. Legal Defenses
A person accused under Penal Code 4573 can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense.
Three common defenses are:
- no knowledge; and/or,
- no controlled substance.
PC 4573 says that a person can bring a drug into a jail/prison if he is authorized to do so by the person in charge of the facility. Therefore, a defense under this section is for an accused to say that he acted with this authorization.
2.2. No knowledge
Please recall that a defendant is only guilty under this statute if he knowingly brought a drug into a jail. An accused, therefore, cannot be guilty of a crime if he did not know he was bringing a drug into prison.
2.3. No controlled substance
Please also recall that PC 4573 only applies to “controlled substances.” This means it is always a defense for a defendant to show that while he may have carried a substance into a jail, it was not a controlled substance.
3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing
A violation of PC 4573 is a felony under California law.2
The crime is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for:
- two years,
- three years, or
- four years.3
In lieu of jail time, a judge may award a guilty party with felony or formal probation.
4. Related Offenses
There are four crimes related to bringing drugs into a jail. These are:
- bringing contraband into a jail or prison – PC 4573.5;
- alcohol at a public educational facility – BPC 25608;
- possession of a controlled substance – HSC 11350; and,
- bringing alcohol into a penal institution – BPC 25603.
4.1. Bringing contraband into a jail or prison – PC 4573.5
- alcohol, and/or,
- a drug that is not a “controlled substance.”5
A violation of PC 4573.5 is charged as a felony. The offense is punishable by up to three years in state prison.6
4.2. Alcohol at a public educational facility – BPC 25608
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. Possession of a controlled substance – HSC 11350
A violation of HSC 11350 is usually charged as a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:
- up to a year in county jail; and/or,
- a fine of up to $1,000.9
4.4. Bringing Alcohol into a Penal Institution – BPC 25603
Business and Professions Code 25603 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to bring any alcoholic beverage into a penal institution.
A violation of BPC 25603 is charged as a felony. The offense is punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail for up to three years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $10,000.
Were you accused of bringing drugs into a jail/prison in California? Call us for help…
If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 4573 PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.
(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 PC. This code section states: “a) Except when otherwise authorized by law, or when authorized by the person in charge of the prison or other institution referred to in this section or by an officer of the institution empowered by the person in charge of the institution to give the authorization, any person, who knowingly brings or sends into, or knowingly assists in bringing into, or sending into, any state prison, prison road camp, prison forestry camp, or other prison camp or prison farm or any other place where prisoners of the state are located under the custody of prison officials, officers or employees, or into any county, city and county, or city jail, road camp, farm or other place where prisoners or inmates are located under custody of any sheriff, chief of police, peace officer, probation officer or employees, or within the grounds belonging to the institution, any controlled substance, the possession of which is prohibited by Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code , any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia intended to be used for unlawfully injecting or consuming a controlled substance, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years.
(b) 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.”
California Penal Code 4573.5 PC.
See same. See also Penal Code 18 PC.
California Business and Professions Code 25608 BPC.
California Health and Safety Code 11350 HSC.