Smuggling Drugs Into a Jail or Prison in California - PC 4573

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Smuggling Drugs Into a Jail or Prison in California

According to California Penal Code 4573, it is illegal to introduce controlled substances into a state prison or jail in the state. This crime is commonly committed by jail employees or visitors who attempt to smuggle in drugs.

If an individual is arrested while in possession of drugs and brings those drugs into a detention facility, they are also in violation of PC 4573. This offense is considered a felony and is punishable by a maximum of 3 years in a county jail.

The law reads:

“4573.  (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.”


According to California law, a breach of PC 4573 is a felony offense. The punishment for this crime may include a sentence in a county jail for a period of two, three, or four years.

As an alternative to jail time, a judge may grant an individual felony or formal probation.

Legal Defenses

When facing charges under PC 4573, it is possible to mount a defense against the accusations. There are several legal arguments that may be used to challenge the charges, including authorization, lack of knowledge, and absence of a controlled substance. In order to effectively present these defenses, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the relevant laws and to work with a knowledgeable legal professional.

Not a controlled substance 

If you have been accused of violating PC 4573, it is important to know that this law only targets those who bring controlled substances into a jail or state prison. Therefore, if the substance in question was not a controlled substance, this could potentially serve as a valid defense against the accusations.

Wasn't aware 

If you are facing charges under Penal Code § 4573 PC, it is essential to establish that you were aware of the presence of a controlled substance. If you were not aware that you were carrying a drug, you cannot be convicted of this crime. A lack of knowledge of the substance can be a strong defense in these cases.

You were authorized to do so

A potential defense against charges under Penal Code 4573 is having authorization from the responsible party to bring a controlled substance into the jail or state prison. If this is the case, it can be argued that the accused was acting within the bounds of that authorization.

Looking for help?

If you have inquiries regarding the California offense of PC 4573 or wish to have a confidential discussion about your case, feel free to reach out to The H Law Group.