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Intentional Food Poisoning
PC 344 – 347(a)(2) Law & Defense

Information on the crime of intentionally poisoning food is found at California penal code section 344 through 347. In short, intentionally poisoning food means to place a harmful substance in any drink or food that the defendant knows is likely to be consumed by another person. For example, placing a date rape drug in a person's drink, or spiking drinks with a drugs at a party, are crimes under PC 347(a)(1).

PC 347(a)(1) Every person who willfully mingles any poison or harmful substance with any food, drink, medicine, or pharmaceutical product, or who willfully places any poison or harmful substance in any spring, well, reservoir, or public water supply, where the person knows or should have known that the same would be taken by any human being to his or her injury, is guilty intentional food poisoning (Abbrev.).

It is also a crime for a person to inform another person that a harmful substance is in a drink or food if that fact is known to be false (PC 347(a)(d).

Note: When a person poisons food or drink knowing that a person could ingest that poison then the defendant is guilty of intentional food poisoning. It is immaterial to the crime whether or not the target of defendant's food poisoning actually ingests the poison. However, if the victim is actually injured or killed by the defendant's poisoning, the the defendant could face additional charges, up to, and including murder charges.


Prison: PC 347(a)(1) is charged as a felony. If found guilty of placing a harmful substance in any food or drink the defendant could face up to two, four, or five year in prison.

Note: There are additional penalties if the defendant is charged with knowing the harmful substance that is place in food or drink could kill a person or actually does cause serious bodily injury (PC 347(a)(2). Of course, if the defendant intended to kill another person with food poisoning, and he or she actually kills another person with that food poisoning, the the defendant could be face with murder in the first degree.

Probation: In some cases of intentional food poisoning it may be possible to receive a probation sentence (as opposed to a prison sentence). A probation sentence for any conviction of a PC 347(a)(1) crime is considered felony probation, which is monitored by a probation officer. Probation can sometime include a condition that the defendant serve some jail time, work release, or house arrest as a condition of probation.

PC 1170(h): If the defendant is found guilty of intentionally poisoning food, and he or she does not receive a probation sentence , then his or her incarceration must be served in a state prison (as opposed to a local county jail), and no part of that prison sentence may be split or suspended.

50% Credit: Any work release or prison sentence received for a conviction of PC 347 crimes is subject to a fifty percent reduction for good behavior (also, called day for day credit). For example, if the defendant is sentenced to four years of prison for intentionally poisoning food, his or her actual incarceration period will be two years if the defendant is on his or her good behavior while in prison.

CIMT: PC 347 crimes are likely crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT). Crimes involving moral turpitude are crimes that involve deceit or crimes that are considered morally wrong. Convictions of CIMT, including intentionally poisoning food, can lead to deporation or denial of entry into the United State (for non US citizens), or denial or revocation of a professional license (dentist, lawyers, doctor, teacher, etc.).

Three Strikes Law: Intentional food poisoning is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law unless the victim suffers great bodily injury or death.

In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of purposefully poisoning food, the defendant could face any of the following punishments: denial of entry into the armed services (Army, Navy, Marines, etc.), negative immigration and professional licensing consequences, fines and fees, civil lawsuits, restitution, criminal protective orders, and more.


Common defenses to a charge of intentional food poisoning include: mistake of fact (as to the substance place in food being harmful), insufficient evidence to prove identity of person who place the substance in the food or drink, insanity, statue of limitations ( 3 years for PC 347(a)(1) felony), consent to imbibe a drink or food known to have harmful substance in that food or drink (i.e. baking with illegal drugs), and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with intentional food poisoning, or PC 347(a)(1), contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers have successfully defendant hundreds of felony and misdemeanor criminal charges. Our attorney are available every day to answer all of your questions and explain your rights and defense options. Call today.  



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Intentional Food Poisoning (Mingle Harmful Substance)

Code: PC 347(a)(1)

Wobbler: No. PC 347(a)(1) is not a wobbler. This means that PC 347(a)(2) is only charged as a felony.​


Incarceration: ​PC 347(a)(1) prison sentence range: 2, 4, or 5 years. Note: If injury occurs, the district attorney may file enhancement charges of PC 347(a)(2), which can add 3 more years to the defendant's prison sentence.

Probation: Probation may be available in PC 347(a)(1) cases (assuming that other crimes or enhancements that might bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

PC 1170(h)): No. PC 347(a)(1) is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a felony conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, must be served in state prison (as opposed to a county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.

Strike: PC 347(a)(1) [No Injury] is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.


Firearms: PC 347(a)(1) convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.. 

Bail: $25,000 (San Bernardino County)

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