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
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 30 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 (877) 466-5245 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.]↩