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Smuggle Drugs into Jail or Prison
PC 4573

Information on the crime of smuggling drugs into a jail is found at California penal code section 4573. In short,  It is a crime to bring a controlled substance into a jail or prison without permission (PC 4573(a) [Abbrev.].

Controlled Substance: A controlled substance is a prescribed narcotic, regulated by the government, and which is commonly known to be addictive, such as Norco, Vicodin, Codeine, OxyContin, etc.


Note: PC 4573(a) law covers controlled substances, but smuggling illegal drugs into a jail or prison is also a crime. Illegal drugs include Meth, Cocaine, LSD, Molly, etc.

Smuggling means to sneak the controlled substance into the jail or prison without permission.


Jail: Smuggling controlled substances into a jail or prison is classified as a felony. If found guilty of PC 4573, the defendant could face up to 2, 3, or 4 years in jail. The exact sentence depends on the defendant's criminal history, the terms of any plea agreement, the facts of the case, and more.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in PC 4573 cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant will receive a probation sentence after a conviction for smuggling drugs into a jail or prison depends on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history. Sometimes probation sentences have terms and conditions of probation that include a sentence for work release or house arrest, which is intended to serve as an alternative to an acutla jail sentence.

Note: Probation sentences in smuggling drugs into a jail cases are classified as formal probation, which means the defendant is monitored by a probation officer.


PC 1170(h): If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence then he or she may serve his or her incarceration in a local county jail, as opposed to a state prison. In addition, jail sentences related to PC 4573 crimes may be split (served partially out fo custody on house arrest or work release), or suspended (also called joint suspension).

Three Strikes Law: PC 4573 is not a strike offense under CA Three Strikes Law.

In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of smuggling drugs into a jail or prison, the defendant could suffer any of the additional punishments: fines and fees, denial of permission to enter the jail or prison in the future (denial of visitation), denial of entry into the US military (or discharge), professional license suspension, immigration consequences, firearm prohibition and more.


Common defenses to a a charge of PC 4573 include: insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, duress, statute of limitations, and more

Note: The law requires that the prohibition against bringing a controlled substance into a jail or prison  is clearly marked at the entrance of the area. If the prohibition is not clearly marked it could lead to a defense to smuggling a controlled substance into a jail or prison.


If you have been arrested or charged with smuggling drugs into a jail or prison, contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Call today!



Related Crimes

  • 4570 communication with a prisoner without permission

  • PC 4570.5 Falsely representation  to gain access to a jail or prison

  • PC 4571 Convicted felon entering prison without permission

  • 4573.5 Bring alcohol intro a jail or prison without permission

  • 4574(a) Bring firearm or deadly weapon to jail without permission

  • 4575(a) Possession of cell phone in jail or prison without permission

  • 4577(a) Flying a drone over a jail or prison without permission

Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Smuggle Drugs into Jail or Prison

Code: PC 4573

Wobbler: No. PC 4573 is not a wobbler. This means that PC 4573 is charged only as a felony.​


Incarceration: ​PC 4573 jail sentence range: 2, 3, or 4, years.

Probation: Probation may be available in PC 4573 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that 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.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 4573 is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: PC 4573 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

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