Penal Code 30210 PC - Bullets Containing an Explosive Agent
Under California's strict firearms regulations, flechette darts (FD) and bullets containing explosives are on the state's list of "generally prohibited weapons.”
Regarding specific crimes, Penal Code 30210 PC is the California statute that criminalizes the manufacture or possession of these two types of items within the state.
If you are convicted of violating this law, you could face up to three years in jail and possibly have your gun ownership rights revoked.
PC 30210 says, “any person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses either of the following is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170: (a) Any ammunition that contains or consists of any flechette dart. (b) Any bullet containing or carrying an explosive agent.”
Simply put, this law makes it a crime for someone to make, import, sell, give, or possess a bullet containing or carrying an explosive agent or ammunition containing or containing any flechette dart.
Notably, the ammunition under PC 30210 is also prohibited under Penal Code 16590 PC, California's law on generally prohibited weapons. Let's review this state law in more detail below.
Overview of PC 30210
As noted, PC 30210 makes it a crime for any person to manufacture, cause to be manufactured, import into California, keep for sale, offer or expose for sale, give away, lend, or possess ammunition consisting of containing flechette darts (FD) and bullets that have an explosive agent.
Under California Penal Code 16570 PC, flechette darts are defined as small darts about 1 inch in length that can be fired from a weapon.
Bullets containing an explosive agent generally refer to bullets designed to explode on impact. The state bans these weapons as they are considered particularly dangerous and damaging to victims.
Also note that under the law, "possession" of an item means having it either on your person or within your direct control, such as storing it in your home.
What Are the Exceptions to PC 30210?
As with other firearms offenses, California law exempts certain people and situations from prosecution under PC 30210. The exceptions include but are not limited to the following:
- Members of law enforcement and authorized military personnel;
- Manufacturers/sellers of these items for sale to law enforcement or the military;
- Certain licensed antique dealers.
What Are Some Examples?
EXAMPLE 1: David buys a case of exploding bullets online from an out-of-state outlet to store in his bunker in case of emergencies or catastrophes. David can be charged under PC 30210 for importing and possessing these items.
EXAMPLE 2: Arnold is a licensed weapons dealer contracted by the military to provide explosive bullets of varying types. He orders a few extras to store in the back room for "special customers" who ask for them.
While Arnold is exempt from prosecution for the banned bullets he sells to the military, he can be charged with violating PC 30210 PC for the bullets he keeps for private sales.
EXAMPLE 3: Susan is an antique weapons dealer with a rare collection of explosive bullets in her store. She is exempt from prosecution under PC 30210 because she is a licensed antique weapons dealer, and the items are being kept for sale only to customers with valid collector's permits.
EXAMPLE 4: Jorge is a gun hobbyist who makes his ammo. A friend gives him instructions on making flechette darts for his guns, which he uses for hunting and personal use.
Even though Jorge has no intentions of using the ammo to harm humans, he can be charged under PC 30210 because he has manufactured a banned form of ammunition within the state.
What Are the Related Crimes?
Several California statutes are related to Penal Code 30210 PC bullets containing explosive agents. Including the following:
- Penal Code 30315 PC - armor-piercing bullets;
- Penal Code 30600 PC – assault weapons;
- Penal Code 33215 PC - short-barreled rifles;
- Penal Code 32310 PC - large-capacity magazines;
- Penal Code 24710 PC – wallet guns;
- Penal Code 18710 PC – destructive devices;
- Penal Code 29800 PC - felon with a firearm;
- Penal Code 30305(a)(1) PC – felon with ammunition;
- Penal Code 245 PC – assault with a deadly weapon;
- Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon;
- Penal Code 417.6 PC - brandishing a firearm causing injury;
- Penal Code 23900 PC - alter firearm identification number;
- Penal Code 17500 PC - possess a deadly weapon to assault;
- Penal Code 12022,3 PC - use of a firearm in a sex crime;
- Penal Code 12022.4 PC - aiding or abetting a felony with a firearm;
- Penal Code 25400 PC – carry a concealed firearm;
- Penal Code 25850 PC – carry a loaded firearm.
What Are the Penalties for PC 30210?
PC 30210 is considered a "wobbler" in California, which means that if you are accused of possessing, making, selling, or transferring FDs or explosive bullets, the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The possible penalties if you're convicted are as follows:
- If you're convicted of a misdemeanor: up to $1000 in fines and up to one year in county jail;
- If you're convicted of a felony: up to $10,000 in fines and up to three years in county jail (not state prison).
Notably, rather than imposing jail time, a judge can grant formal felony probation. It's also worth noting that if you're convicted of a felony violation of this law, you will forfeit all rights to owning or possessing firearms in the state, and you'll be required to surrender any other firearms you own.
What Are the Defenses for PC 30210?
If you are charged with a crime under PC 30210, a good criminal defense attorney may utilize one of several defense strategies to fight the charges. These are discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue that you did not know. The law implies that you must knowingly handle banned ammunition to be convicted. Your attorney may be able to argue, for example, that you were storing bullets for someone else without realizing they contained explosives.
Perhaps we can argue that the ammunition does not qualify as explosive bullets or FDs. For example, you could be making dart weapons that did not meet the state's definition of a flechette dart.
Perhaps we can argue that you qualify for a legal exception. The charges must be dropped if you can show evidence that you meet legal criteria that exempt you from prosecution.
Perhaps we can negotiate for reduced charges. For example, suppose prosecutors wish to charge you with a felony. In that case, your attorney may arrange to have the account downgraded to a misdemeanor to keep you from losing your gun ownership rights.
If you were charged with violating Penal Code 30210 PC, contact our law firm to examine the details and legal options. Please feel free to contact us by phone or through the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, California.