Penal Code 4574 PC | Unlawful Bringing of Firearms into Prison or Jail

Penal Code 4574 PC | Unlawful Bringing of Firearms into Prison or Jail

This article provides an overview of California’s law prohibiting the unlawful bringing of firearms into prisons or jails. We’ll discuss what conduct is prohibited, penalties for violation, legal defenses, and more. Our goal is to explain this law in plain English that’s easy to understand.

What is Penal Code 4574 PC?

Penal Code 4574 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to knowingly bring or send a firearm, deadly weapon, or explosive into a prison or jail. This offense is a felony under California law.

Specifically, 4574 PC states that “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 any jail, road camp, farm, place or prison, 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, or alcoholic beverage, without having authority so to do by the rules of the Department of Corrections, rules of the prison or jail, institution, camp, farm or place, or by the specific authorization of the warden, superintendent, jailer or other person in charge of the prison, jail, institution, camp, farm or place, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three or four years.

In plain English, this law prohibits bringing or sending firearms, deadly weapons, explosives, controlled substances, drug paraphernalia, or alcohol into any prison, jail, or other detention facility without authorization from officials.

Elements of the Offense

To be convicted under Penal Code 4574, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant brought, sent, or assisted in bringing or sending an item into a prison, jail, or other detention facility,
  • The item was a firearm, deadly weapon, explosive, controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, or alcohol,
  • The defendant knew the item was illegal to bring into the facility,
  • The defendant did not have authorization from officials to bring the item into the facility.

Penalties for Violation

A violation of PC 4574 is a felony offense, punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years, or
  • Imprisonment in state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years.

The court also has the discretion to impose a fine up to $10,000 in addition to imprisonment.

Legal Defenses

If you are charged with unlawful bringing of firearms into a prison or jail, some possible legal defenses include:

  • You did not knowingly bring the prohibited item: For example, the item was hidden or planted on you without your knowledge.
  • You had authorization: You had permission from officials to bring the item into the facility.
  • Misidentification: You were mistakenly identified and were not actually the person who brought the prohibited item.
  • Entrapment: A law enforcement officer induced you to commit the crime when you otherwise would not have.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the details of your case and advise you on the best defenses to raise. Having skilled legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome.

Related Offenses

There are several other related laws prohibiting bringing contraband into jails and prisons, including:

  • Penal Code 4573 PC – Bringing drugs or drug paraphernalia into a prison or jail
  • Penal Code 4573.5 PC – Bringing alcohol into a prison or jail
  • Penal Code 4573.6 PC – Possessing controlled substances or paraphernalia in a prison or jail
  • Penal Code 4573.9 PC – Bringing drugs or paraphernalia into a jail to an inmate

While there is some overlap between these laws, prosecutors can charge multiple counts based on the specific prohibited items involved in the case.

Penal Code 4574 and Sentencing Enhancements

If convicted under 4574 PC, you may also face sentencing enhancements that can significantly increase penalties if certain circumstances apply. Some possible enhancements include:

  • Prior convictions – Added prison time for each prior conviction under 4573-4573.9 PC
  • Previous prison terms – Added 1-year enhancement for each prior separate prison term
  • On bail – Added 2-year enhancement if out on bail when offense committed

With enhancements, the potential prison sentence can quickly escalate from 2-4 years to 6 years or longer. That’s why it’s critical to have an attorney examine options to try to avoid enhancements.


Being charged with unlawfully bringing firearms, weapons, or contraband into a California prison or jail is a serious felony offense. If convicted, you face potential state prison time of 2-4 years. But with an experienced criminal defense lawyer helping build your case, you may be able to challenge the charges and achieve a better outcome. Don’t hesitate to explore your options and legal defenses.