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Posted on July 17, 2017 in Crime

What are the Penalties for Smuggling Contraband into a Prison

Prison contraband describes items the law does not allow prisoners to have while in detainment. Contraband can be almost anything, from weapons to certain types of food. Almost anything that prisoners could trade, modify, or use to escape may be something corrections professionals deem as contraband.

Smuggling contraband to give to a prisoner in Arizona is a very serious offense that could result in major legal consequences – including imprisonment of up to 20 years. Here’s what you should know about the penalties for this crime.

What the Law Considers as Smuggling Contraband

Arizona State Legislature, Chapter 13-2505, considers an individual to have smuggled contraband for a prison if that person “knowingly takes contraband onto the grounds of or into a correctional facility.” Knowingly conveying the contraband to an inmate in a facility is also grounds for this charge. Contraband may be virtually anything the correctional facility does not allow prisoners to possess, including:

The police may charge you with smuggling contraband to give to a prisoner if they find you with items that qualify as contraband while on the grounds of or inside of a correctional facility. You do not necessarily have to have plans to visit a certain prisoner at the time to face this charge. Prison staff has the right to perform a body scan using low-dose x-ray to prevent contraband from entering a correctional facility. The law will even consider information “contraband” in some circumstances – for instance, if you give a prisoner a staff member’s home address to use as material for blackmail.

How Does Contraband Effect Prisoners?

Contraband gives prisoners power and can disrupt the U.S. justice system. Even goods that are seemingly harmless can be meaningful inside a prison and destabilize the security of the facility. Prisoners can use contraband to have power over others and even to try escape schemes. With outside help, prisoners could procure drugs, weapons, and other items that can make a prison unsafe for everyone. Since so much is at stake, Arizona lawmakers enforce harsh punishments on anyone caught trying to give contraband to a prisoner.

Penalties for Smuggling Contraband

In Arizona, smuggling contraband is a class 5 felony on a scale of 1 to 6, in which 1 is the most serious and 6 is the least serious. The punishment for a class 5 felony is one and a half years in jail, at the discretion of the judge. A judge could order a more serious sentence depending on the nature of the crime, such as a longer period of incarceration or time in a state prison instead of county jail. Second-time offenders will face more serious repercussions.

If the police catch an individual trying to smuggle deadly weapons, explosives, dangerous instruments, dangerous drugs, narcotics, or marijuana into a prisoner, the charge is a class 2 felony. This is a much more serious offense, punishable with up to five years in jail and hefty fines. Again, a judge can impose a more severe sentence at his or her discretion according to the facts of the case. Failure to report the smuggling of – or attempt to smuggle – contraband is a class 5 felony. Federal law also has penalties for people who smuggle contraband to prisoners. U.S. Code Title 18, § 1791, makes providing contraband in prison punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years (dependent on the type of contraband).

Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Having a felony conviction on your record can have lasting effects, including making it difficult to find gainful employment and housing. Speak with an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer if you find yourself facing charges for smuggling contraband to give to a prisoner.