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What fireworks are legal in California? A lawyer explains
Arrested for possessing or selling illegal fireworks in California? Criminal defense lawyers explain the laws, penalties and legal defenses
California “Illegal Fireworks” Laws – Health and Safety Code 12500-12728 HS
Are "Fireworks" illegal in California? A former DA explains the law
California fireworks laws divide fireworks into two categories: dangerous fireworks and “safe and sane” fireworks.
Dangerous fireworks are always illegal except for use by a licensed operator. Safe and sane fireworks can be sold by licensed retailers from June 28th to July 6th of each year, and can be used by the public but subject to certain limitations.“Dangerous” fireworks include large items such as rockets and sparklers bigger than ten inches in length or one-quarter inch in diameter. 1“Safe and sane” fireworks include small items such as fountains, spinners, and snap caps. The Office of the California State Fire Marshal puts a list on its website of fireworks that meet this definition.
What fireworks are illegal in California?Dangerous fireworks are always illegal in California except when used by someone with a special display license. These licenses are typically issued only to pyrotechnic operators who put on Fourth of July and other holiday displays.2
Fireworks that are legal in California
Subject to local restrictions, safe and sane fireworks may be sold, purchased, and used by the general public. But only licensed retailers can sell them and they can do so only from June 28 to July 6 each year.3
Is it legal to give fireworks to a minor in California?
It is illegal to sell or give dangerous fireworks to anyone under eighteen (18). It is also illegal to sell or give “safe and sane” fireworks to anyone under sixteen (16).4
Someone who does either of these things can be charged with the California misdemeanor crime of furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor.
Examples of illegal fireworks use
Examples of uses that violate California’s illegal fireworks laws include:
A man obtains some dangerous fireworks from a friend who holds a display license but has some extra skyrockets he wants to give away.
A store owner has some “safe and sane” fireworks left in her inventory after Fourth of July, so she sells them for use on New Year’s Eve.
A party store employee sells a 14-year-old boy some “safe and sane” fireworks to use on the Fourth of July.
Penalties for illegal fireworks in California
Most violations of California’s fireworks laws are misdemeanors. Penalties can include:
Up to one (1) year in county jail, and/or
A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).
But possession of large quantities of dangerous fireworks can be charged as a California felony. Punishment for a felony fireworks violation can include:
Up to three (3) years in the California state prison, and
Fines as high as fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).5
Legal defenses to California fireworks charges
California legal defenses to fireworks charges include taking the position that:
The defendant was not the person who possessed or had control over the fireworks,
The police discovered and seized the fireworks in violation of California’s search and seizure laws,
The defendant had a permit or license to engage in the activity, and/or
The defendant reasonably believed they were involved in a legal transaction with an adult rather than a minor.
To help you better understand California’s fireworks laws, our California criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:
1. What fireworks are legal in California?
1.1. What is the definition of “dangerous” and “exempt” fireworks?
1.2. What is the definition of “safe and sane” fireworks?
2. What are the major California fireworks laws?
2.1. What is the California crime of HS 12677 possessing illegal (dangerous) fireworks?
2.2 What is the California crime of HS 12676 selling or manufacturing illegal (dangerous) fireworks?
2.3. What is the California crime of furnishing fireworks to a minor?
2.4. What is the California crime of HS 12672 selling “safe and sane” fireworks outside the authorized time period?
2.5. What is the crime of HS 12680 discharging dangerous fireworks where injury to another person is likely?
3. What are the best defenses to assert in court?
4. Can a person go to jail for fireworks violations?
4.1. Possessing a large quantity of dangerous fireworks
4.2. Commercial drivers
5. Related Offenses
California has separate rules for “dangerous fireworks” and “safe and sane” fireworks.”
1. What fireworks are legal in California?
California fireworks laws divide fireworks into two categories:
“dangerous” fireworks, and
“safe and sane” fireworks.
Dangerous fireworks may generally be possessed and used solely by people with a special display license.Safe and sane fireworks may be purchased and used by the general public if permitted by local fire codes and subject to strict restrictions.
Fireworks Safety and July 4th Celebration Information – Fire Department
The County of Los Angeles Fire Code, Title 32, Section 5601.3 states that it is illegal to store, manufacture, sell, use, or handle ALL FORMS of fireworks without a valid permit in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department encourages families to attend a public fireworks show conducted by State-licensed pyrotechnicians. Please click here to see a list of professional fireworks shows in Los Angeles County or call our Fireworks Hotline at (888) 654-FIRE (3473).
Consequences of Selling Illegal Fireworks in California
The criminal defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich discuss the consequences of selling illegal fireworks in California. If you are accused, call us today.
Consequences Of Selling Illegal Fireworks In California
Summer is quickly approaching, and before long, many of us will soon turn our minds to how we are going to celebrate our country’s Independence Day. In California, there are many ways to spend the Fourth of July. You could go to the beach or to a backyard pool party. Perhaps you and your family will spend the day at a baseball game or at a theme park like Disneyland. Whatever you choose to do, there is no doubt that fireworks will be part of the celebration.
With California suffering through one of its worst droughts in history, fireworks that are improperly used could potentially pose a real threat to starting a wildfire. Additionally, roughly 30 percent of persons injured by fireworks in 2014 were under the age of 15. 1 You can be sure that because of these consequences, law enforcement and fire officials will be more vigilant than usual in cracking down on illegal firework sales and possession.
Fireworks And California Law
The legality of selling or possessing fireworks can be complex and confusing because there are two sets of laws that exist regarding this topic. First, California Health and Safety Code sections 12500-12728 govern the use and sale of fireworks throughout the state. California law differentiates between “dangerous” fireworks – such as firecrackers and skyrockets – and “safe and sane” fireworks, which are less powerful fireworks that have been rated by the State Fire Marshall as safe for public use.
Generally, California law allows you to purchase “safe and sane” fireworks between noon on June 28 and noon on July 6. This is also the only time period that any person may possess or use fireworks legally, unless he or she has a special permit that allows use or possession during other times of the year.
However, there also municipal laws to worry about, which are often more restrictive than those of the state. Depending on the city and county in which you live, you may not be allowed to sell or posses fireworks at all, or may be able to do so only under limited circumstances. So, before you decide to spend money on fireworks, it is a good idea to talk to your local police or fire department and have them explain the local regulations.
Sale And Possession: Potential Punishments
Generally speaking, violating any of California’s laws regarding fireworks is a misdemeanor offense, and can result in:
A maximum of 364 days in a county jail;
Fines between $500 and $1,000; and
Confiscation of the fireworks.
However, a conviction for possessing a large quantity of illegal dangerous fireworks can carry more severe penalties, regardless of whether you possess the fireworks because you manufacture them, sell them, or have them for personal use. Punishment for the possession of large quantities is dependent upon the weight in pounds of the fireworks you had.
Possession of between 25 and 100 pounds of dangerous fireworks is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, and a maximum term of 364 days in a county jail.
Possession of between 101 and 5,000 pounds of dangerous fireworks is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum of 364 days in a county jail and a fine between $5,000 and $10,000. A felony conviction results in the same fine, but is also punishable by a term of 16 months or two or three years in a California state prison.
Possessing more than 5,000 pounds bears the same type of jail or prison terms as the previous offense, but the fine is increased to between $10,000 and $50,000.
Contact The Defense Attorneys At Wallin & Klarich Today
Let our team fight on your behalf. We will get through this together.
If you are accused of selling illegal fireworks, do not hesitate to contact an experienced and skilled defense attorney to help you with your case. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been successfully helping clients facing criminal charges for over 40 years. We are dedicated to working tirelessly on our clients’ behalf to provide them with the best defense possible. Let us help you, too.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in California’s fireworks laws near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (619) 404-2863 for a free, no obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [7 more people arrested for possessing, selling illegal fireworks,” Los Angeles Daily News, July 3, 2014, available at http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20140703/7-more-people-arrested-for-possessing-selling-illegal-fireworks.]↩