Visting a loved one who is incarcerated is never easy, but you’re not allowed to attempt to numb the experience by bringing a bottle of alcohol to the jail/prison with you. Bringing alcohol to a California jail or prison is in direct violation of Business and Professions Code 25603 BPC.
It doesn’t matter if you intend on consuming the alcohol yourself or if you think it will make a nice present for your incarcerated loved one, simply having the alcohol with you can result in you getting into serious trouble. You’re not allowed to bring any alcohol to:
• City jails
• County jails
• California reformatories
Don’t assume that getting caught bringing alcohol to a California jail or prison will simply result in it getting taken away. California lawmakers are serious about not wanting any alcohol in the jail system and have taken an extreme step to discourage anyone from bringing it into the buildings.
Losing the bottle of alcohol will quickly become the least of your concerns. If you’re caught, you find yourself facing felony charges. The maximum sentence if you’re convicted is up to three years in a county jail and/or a $10,000 fine. You’ll also have a felony charge on your criminal history that could negatively impact several different aspects of your future, including your ability to find housing, qualify for assistance programs, and even find a job. And it will all be because of one mistake.
While there is a definite chance that the conviction could result in you spending some time locked in a cell, it’s also possible that instead of ordering jail time, the judge will sentence you to felony probation.
It’s difficult to mount a successful defense against a bringing alcohol into a prison charge. Difficult, but not impossible. Successful defenses that have been used in the past include:
• False accusation
You probably won’t be able to successfully use ignorance of the law as your defense unless you can prove that someone tricked you by saying that you were allowed to bring the alcohol to the jail, and even then, the odds probably won’t be in your favor.
Since ignorance of the law is unlikely to be a solid defense in a bringing alcohol to a jail charge, it’s in your best interest to get a copy of the rules that deal with prison and jail visitations. Pay careful attention to what you are and aren’t allowed to bring with you. You’ll find that there are several things you should plan on leaving at home.