Possession of illegal fireworks carries hefty punishment in California

Cities across the area are cracking down on illegal fireworks

The Fourth of July is almost here and the allure of using illegal fireworks can steal the show around the holiday.

Police in Stockton just recently seized about 300 to 400 pounds of illegal fireworks, valued at about $10,000 on Sunday June 25.

Illegal fireworks are sold throughout the region, and many can't tell the difference between the safe, legal varieties versus the opposite. State and federal laws are clear regarding their possession. Some cities like the City of Vallejo prohibit fireworks, except at certain events.

"Each year we have many unnecessary injuries and fires that are attributed directly to fireworks. Fireworks can be extremely dangerous and cause extensive property damage," said the Vallejo Fire Department.

So, what exactly are the laws and penalties?

"Sell, offer for sale, possess, store, discharge, use, or transport fireworks not registered by the State Fire Marshal" are illegal, according to California law.

There are various penalties for violating that law, too, according to CAL FIRE and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The penalty for violating California's possession of "dangerous fireworks" laws are typically misdemeanors that include serving up to one year in the county jail as well as a fine that reaches between $500 and $1,000, or both.

This obviously depends on the quantity because holding a large amount give prosecutors the opportunity to charge with a felony, which is up to three years in the state prison, and increased fines.

In fact, someone possessing a gross weight, including packaging, of 25 pounds or more than 100 pounds is guilty of what's considered a "public offense." This includes punishment by means of imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, or the fine and imprisonment.

Possessing 100 pounds or more than 5,000 pounds of dangerous fireworks is illegal, too. This would include up to a year in the county jail or prison and fines of between $5,000 to $10,000.

If you're holding more than 5,000 pounds of dangerous fireworks then you could serve more than one year in the state prison or jail and fines can reach as high as $50,000.

However, Californians can sell 'Safe and Sane' fireworks from noon June 28 to noon July 6 and can sell or transfer them to a fixed place of business. Though fireworks are said to generally be excluded from explosive laws, the acts of selling, giving or delivering fireworks in any way to anyone under 16 years old is illegal.

Sacramento's firework rules

In the City of Sacramento, the use of "Safe and Sane” fireworks is limited from noon June 28 through midnight on July 4. Firework booths operating days go from June 28-29 through July 4.

According to the city, here are safety tips from the Sacramento Fire Department:

  • Use "Safe and Sane" fireworks purchased from a licensed booth that has the State Fire Marshal seal.
  • Read and follow all fireworks label directions. Light one at a time, make sure it's outdoors in a clear and open space. You should always "maintain a safe distance from people, structures, vehicles, and flammable materials."
  • Keep a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of fire or a malfunctioning firework. DO NOT attempt to re-light or fix what's considered a “dud” firework.
  • Children should be closely supervised around fireworks and shouldn't be allowed to handle or ignite them. 
  • Keep animals inside and safe because they tend to become frightened by the activity of fireworks.
  • Properly dispose of fireworks.

Questions or complaints regarding fireworks or fireworks booths can be emailed to the Fire Prevention Team and call (916) 264-5471 to turn in or report illegal fireworks.

Remember, be smart and safe on the Fourth of July!

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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