Simple possession + being arrested = Felony drug charges?!?
After the passage of Proposition 47 in November, 2014, simple possession of drugs for personal use is now a misdemeanor charge. But there’s a way for those drugs for personal use can still be charged against you as a felony. Penal Code section 4573, smuggling drugs or alcohol into a jail, is a felony drug charge that was not affected by Proposition 47. It’s a felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor ever.
Here’s the scenario: You get arrested for any reason. The officers do a pat-down search just to make sure you don’t have any weapons. No weapons? You’re transported to jail. At the jail are the large signs warning a person that they are now entering a custody facility and that bringing drugs in is a felony charge. Either you don’t see the signs or you decide to exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and say nothing. Then, inside the jail facility, the officers do a complete search and find your drugs. You’re now charged with a felony for smuggling drugs into a custody facility. A felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor and carries up to 4 years in custody. It’s also not eligible for drug diversion or other treatment options.
Your right to silence vs. protecting yourself
Ordinarily, in almost every circumstance, the single most given advice by criminal defense attorneys is to never talk to the police. Any statement you make can and will be used against you. So who in their right mind would advise anyone to admit they had drugs? Well, this might be that very limited time. If you speak up and tell them you’re holding a controlled substance for personal use BEFORE they take you into the jail facility, you’ve got a strong argument that you had absolutely NO intent to break that law and actively tried to stop it. Dealing with a misdemeanor drug charge is much better than having to deal with a felony.
You got charged with Penal Code 4573 – now what?
If you were arrested and this scenario happened to you – being charged with “smuggling drugs” into a jail, give me a call. I’ve been practicing criminal law since 1996, I teach search and seizure law at a police academy and can fight for your rights.