California Business & Professions Code Section 25603 BPC: Bringing Intoxicants Into A Penal Institution

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimeintoxicants in penal institution

While serving jail or prison sentences, those in custody are strictly forbidden from in engaging in drug and alcohol use. Despite the best efforts of authorities, there is a thriving black market for alcohol and drugs within penal institutions. Most of these forbidden items are smuggled in by those visiting someone in custody. While this may seem like a harmless act, bringing intoxicants into a penal institution is a serious felony under California Business and Professions Code Section 25603 and those convicted can end up serving prison sentences of their own.

In order to establish that a defendant is guilty of bringing intoxicants into a penal institution, a prosecutor would be required to prove the following:

  1. The defendant had an alcoholic beverage in his or her possession.
  2. AND the defendant brought an alcoholic beverage into a state prison, city or county jail, or reformatory in California, or within the grounds belonging to any such institution.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Bringing Drugs Into Jail – California Penal Code Section 4573 PC
  2. Soliciting Purchase of Alcohol – California Penal Code Section 303(a) PC
3. Examples

A woman goes to visit her boyfriend who is in jail awaiting trial. The woman wants to cheer him up so she decides to sneak in a small bottle of vodka in order to give to him. The woman enters the grounds of the jail and is parking her car when a guard sees her trying to hide the bottle in her waistband. This woman could be charged with bringing an intoxicant into a penal institution in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 25603 BPC even though she did not even make it to the jail facility. As long as she brought alcohol onto the grounds of the facility, she could be convicted of this offense.

In another example, a man serving a prison sentence asks his mother to send him a care package. While preparing the package, the mother includes several miniature bottles of alcohol and mails it to her son in prison. The alcohol is discovered during a routine mail search and the alcohol is confiscated. The woman would not be guilty under California Business and Professions Code Section 25603 BPC because she did not physically enter the grounds of the prison facility with alcohol, which is required under the law.

4. Defenses to Bringing Intoxicants into a Penal Institution

As described above, the defendant must physically bring alcohol into a jail facility or onto the grounds of that facility. If the defendant mailed or otherwise arranged transportation of alcohol into jail, he or she would not be criminally liable under this statute. In addition, the law creates an exemption for those who are authorized by law to have alcohol in a jail facility, such as medical professionals who must have rubbing alcohol as part of their job function.

5. How Bringing Intoxicants into a Penal Institution Cases Are Defended

A charge under California Business and Professions Code Section 25603 is usually initiated after a visitor, guard or prisoner is caught with unauthorized alcohol on jail or prison grounds. The case would be referred to the District Attorney’s Office and the defendant would have to appear in court for his or her arraignment.

Following arraignment, the defendant is entitled to a preliminary examination at which the prosecution would be required to establish that the allegations are supported by probable cause. If the judge or magistrate holds the defendant to answer to the criminal charges, the case would proceed to trial. A defendant can elect to have a trial before a judge or 12-member jury. The defendant would have to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant would be able to present his own witnesses and testify on his own behalf. To be convicted, all twelve jurors would have to unanimously agree on a guilty verdict.

6. Penalties

Bringing intoxicants into a penal institution is always a felony level offense. Those convicted can be sentenced to up to three years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.

7. Criminal Defense for Bringing Intoxicants into a Penal Institution Cases

If you have been charged with bringing intoxicants into a penal institution, it is very important that you meet with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly regarded for his litigation skills and knowledge of the law.

For more information about bringing intoxicants into a penal institution, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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