June 30, 2022 By Paul Wallin

Fireworks Laws to Know for Your July 4th Celebration 

Types of Fireworks: Which Are Legal?  

With the Fourth of July coming up, you may be thinking about putting on a celebration. If so, you will need to know California’s laws regarding fireworks, as not all of them are legal in the state. According to California Health and Safety Code Section 12511, “fireworks” is defined as any device containing chemical elements and compounds capable of burning independently of the oxygen of the atmosphere and producing audible, visual, mechanical, or thermal effects which are useful as pyrotechnic devices or for entertainment. This includes, but is not limited to, torpedoes, roman candles, rockets, sparklers, party poppers, smoke sparks, aerial bombs, and fireworks kits. 

There are two broad categories of fireworks. The first consists of “dangerous fireworks.” It is unlawful for any person to possess these dangerous fireworks without holding a valid permit. Under HSC Section 12505, dangerous fireworks include all of the following: 

  • Any fireworks which contain arsenic sulfide, arsenates, or arsenites; boron; chlorates; gallates or gallic acid; magnesium; mercury salts; phosphorous; picrates or picric acid; thiocyanates; titanium; or zirconium 
  • Firecrackers, skyrockets and rockets, roman candles, and chasers 
  • Sparklers more than 10 inches in length or 1/4 of an inch in diameter 
  • All fireworks designed and intended by the manufacturer to create the element of surprise upon the user 
  • Torpedoes of all kinds which explode on impact 
  • Fireworks kits 

The second category of fireworks is known as “safe and sane fireworks.” These include any fireworks which are not classified as “dangerous fireworks” or “exempt fireworks.” Safe and sane fireworks can be purchased and used by the general public as long as they are permitted by the local fire codes. However, all safe and sane fireworks must display a “State of California, State Fire Marshall Registered Fireworks” seal. If they do not, they are still considered to be illegal in California. Before using such fireworks, it is always a good idea to call the local fire department to ask whether local restrictions exist. 

Other Limitations on Fireworks 

In addition to limiting what kinds of fireworks are legal, California also has other restrictions. For one, California only allows the retail sale of safe and sane fireworks within the state during the period of June 28th to July 6th. After this period, the retailer’s license expires, and the retailer must renew it for the following year. Furthermore, California prohibits the sale of fireworks to minors. Retailers cannot sell or transfer even safe and sane fireworks to anyone under the age of 16. 

There are also laws regarding whether fireworks can be discharged in certain locations. For example, it is illegal to place or discharge dangerous fireworks at or near people where there’s a likelihood of injury to those people. It is illegal as well to willfully place or discharge fireworks with the intent of creating chaos, fear, or panic. Moreover, fireworks cannot be discharged within 100 feet of gasoline or any other flammable liquid. All of these laws are meant to protect the general public. 

In some cases, farmers may be allowed to own and discharge certain types of fireworks to scare off birds and animals in order to prevent crop damage. These can include small explosives whose noise drives off animals or flash pots whose bright lights have a similar effect. Farmers wishing to use this technique must first obtain a permit from the state. 

Penalties for Violating Fireworks Laws 

In California, violation of the laws regarding fireworks are generally prosecuted as misdemeanors. If you are convicted of this crime, you may face: 

  • $500 to $1,000 in fines 
  • Up to 1 year in county jail 

However, the penalties increase significantly if you are caught with large amounts of dangerous fireworks. For greater amounts of possession, you may be facing as much as $50,000 in fines and a year of imprisonment. As such, it’s important to know California’s regulations on fireworks in order to avoid hefty fines and jail time. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are convicted of violating California’s fireworks law, you may be facing significant fines and jail time, so it is crucial that you contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible after your arrest. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of cases, and we have the skills and resources to secure the best outcome for you. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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