By: Gregory Rollins
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“Are Fireworks Illegal in Riverside County?” 10 Things To Know About Fireworks And The Law In Riverside County
Fireworks seem to go hand-in-hand with New Year’s and 4th of July. Many people enjoy celebrating these holidays with fireworks. Some people enjoy going to professional firework displays while other people prefer to buy fireworks and create their own fireworks display. For those people that like to create their own fireworks displays, the questions of “What am I allowed to do?” and “What are the potential legal consequences associated with fireworks?” often arise.
California has numerous laws on the books that regulate the possession and use of fireworks. Violating these laws can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. When it comes to fireworks and the law, knowing your rights and what things are allowed and what things are not allowed is critical. Below you will find a list of 10 things to know about fireworks and the law in Riverside County.
- “Are fireworks legal in Riverside County?”
No. All fireworks are currently illegal throughout Riverside County. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department website states that ALL FIREWORKS including sparklers are illegal throughout Riverside County. Local Riverside County Ordinance 858 defines illicit fireworks and the penalties for setting them off.
- “Can I buy fireworks in another county and transport them to Riverside County?”
No. As previously discussed, all fireworks are illegal in Riverside County. California Health and Safety Code section 12676 states that it is unlawful to, “sell, transfer, give, deliver, or otherwise convey title of any dangerous fireworks,” to any person in California who does not possess and present a valid permit to receive, use, or transport dangerous fireworks. An exception exists allowing for the transferring of fireworks into Riverside County for fireworks shows that are sanctioned by the County or City.
- “Can minors purchase fireworks?”
No. It is against the law in California for any person to sell or give dangerous fireworks to any person under the age of 18 (See Health and Safety Code section 12689(a)). Health and Safety Code section 12689(b) goes on to state that it is also illegal for any retailer to sell safe and sane fireworks to anyone under the age of 16.
- “Is there a specific timeframe where I can purchase fireworks?”
Yes, but only in other counties, not in Riverside County. Health and Safety Code 12599 states that retailers in California may sell safe and sane fireworks beginning at 12:00pm on June 28th through 12:00pm on July 6th of the same year. Anyone who purchases or sells fireworks outside of the time period above is in violation of Health and Safety Code section 12672.
- “What is the punishment for possessing illegal fireworks in California?”
California Health and Safety Code section 12677 makes it illegal for any person to possess dangerous and illicit fireworks without having a valid permit. Health and Safety Code section 12700 lays out the penalties for violating California fireworks laws. Penalties can range from misdemeanor violations with up to a year in county jail, up to felony violations with up to three years in state prison. Convictions for fireworks law violation can also carry steep fines.
- “Can I transport fireworks from another state into California?”
No, unless you possess a valid permit. As discussed previously, California Health and Safety Code 12676 makes it is unlawful to, “sell, transfer, give, deliver, or otherwise convey title of any dangerous fireworks,” to any person in California who does not possess and present a valid permit to receive, use, or transport dangerous fireworks.
- “What is the punishment for setting off dangerous fireworks in cases where another person is likely to be injured?”
California Health and Safety Code 12680 states that, “It is unlawful for any person to place, throw, discharge or ignite, or fire dangerous fireworks at or near any person or group of persons where there is a likelihood of injury to that person or group of persons or when the person willfully places, throws, discharges, ignites, or fires the fireworks with the intent of creating chaos, fear, or panic.” Those who work in the entertainment industry or have a valid fireworks license are exempt from this law. Violations of Health and Safety Code 12680 can be charged either as misdemeanors or as felonies
- “Can I go to jail for committing a fireworks law violation?”
Yes. Many fireworks violations include the possibility of jail time, or in some cases, time in state prison. Possession of illegal and dangerous fireworks, selling or giving fireworks to minors, and other fireworks law violations can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and can result in heavy fines depending on the weight of the fireworks. In addition, fireworks violations can be charged separately according Health and Safety Code section 12701 for each day there is a continuing violation.
- “Can other crimes can be charged in connection with fireworks law violations?”
Yes. Arson type crimes are often charged in connection with fireworks law violations when fireworks cause a fire. Penal Code 452 states that, “A person is guilty of unlawfully causing a fire when he recklessly sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property.” In cases where someone actually intended to cause damage or to start a fire with fireworks, they may be charged with a violation of Penal Code 451. Penal Code 451 states that, “A person is guilty of arson when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.” While these two codes are similar in that they are felonies, they differ slightly based off of whether or not damaged caused was intentional or not. Less serious offenses such as creating a public nuisance (Penal Code 272), disturbing the peace, (Penal Code 415), or trespassing (Penal Code 602) may also be charged.
- “What kind of defenses can be asserted in court for a fireworks law violation?”
Several strategies for defending a client charged with a fireworks violation include challenging any law enforcement search or seizures, the client was not the one who possessed the fireworks, or the client was permitted to possess or use the fireworks.
*Special thanks to Volunteer Intern Caelan Thompson who assisted in researching and writing this article.*
Criminal defense attorney and former Riverside County prosecutor Gregory Rollins uses his unique experience and expertise to defend the rights of the accused, provide meaningful legal advice to his clients, and to fight for the best possible outcome for every client in every case. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, it is important to make sure that your rights (or those of your loved-one) are protected.
Contact criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Gregory Rollins to set up a free consultation.