Review of California Health and Safety Code 12085 HS
It is illegal to produce, possess, receive, or transport certain explosives in California. The law on this is outlined in the state Health and Safety Code 12085 which says “Nobody shall make, possess, or transport any explosive in a manner prohibited by any ordinance of a city, county, or by the laws or regulations governing a harbor in those areas where such ordinance, or regulations apply.”
In other words, this law makes it a crime to violate any city or county ordinance or regulation regarding illegal explosives. Explosives are a substance or combinations of substances used to combust rapidly. The most common examples of explosives under California law include:
- Pipe bombs,
- Dangerous fireworks,
- Blasting caps, and
- Black powder.
This is not a complete list of prohibited explosives. Individuals are permitted to produce, possess, receive, or transport an explosive if they are specifically allowed under a city or county ordinance or regulation.
This often occurs when the individual works in a role that requires an explosive's production, possession, or transportation. In this article by our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers, we will outline this law below.
Categories of Fireworks Under California Law
In California, fireworks are separated into two classifications: safe and unsafe fireworks and dangerous fireworks:
- Safe and sane fireworks are small fireworks such as snap caps, sparkling devices, fountains, and spinners. These fireworks are available to the public but are only sold by licensed sellers annually between June 28th and July 6th.
- Dangerous fireworks include rockets, large sparklers, and other projectile fireworks.
The threat of forest fires in California is ever-present, so it is essential to understand how to carefully and legally use fireworks.
California Health and Safety Code Section 12500-12728 are the laws against illegal fireworks. Most violations of the fireworks laws are a misdemeanor crime carrying a penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you possess large quantities of dangerous fireworks, then you could be charged with a felony carrying a penalty of up to three years in a California state prison and a severe fine of up to $50,000.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Conviction?
A violation of Health and Safety Code 12085 HS can result in a misdemeanor conviction. An individual convicted of violating HS 12085 can face up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The presiding judge can also order an individual to be monitored on probation. In other words, instead of jail time, a judge has the discretion to impose misdemeanor probation, which is called “summary” or “informal” probation. It is possible to expunge an explosives conviction in California if you are otherwise eligible.
What are California Offenses Associated with Explosives Crimes?
The California crimes associated with explosives can be found within the California Penal Code and the Health and Safety Code. They are listed and explained below.
Penal Code 18710 PC - Possessing explosives or destructive devices. Anyone who possesses a destructive device such as a bomb, grenade, or missile is guilty of a criminal offense. This offense is a wobbler offense and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction under this section is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction under this section is punishable by up to three years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
Penal Code 18720 PC - Possessing the materials to make a destructive device. Anyone who possesses a combination of substances intended to be used in making a destructive or explosive device is guilty of a felony, and a conviction under this section is punishable by up to four years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Penal Code 18725 PC – Anybody who carries a destructive or explosive device on any vessel, aircraft, car, or places a destructive or incendiary device in checked baggage is guilty of a felony. A conviction under this statute is punishable by two, four, or six years of imprisonment.
Penal Code 18730 PC – Anybody who sells or offers a destructive device is guilty of a felony crime. A conviction under this statute is punishable by two, three, or four years of imprisonment.
Penal Code 18735 PC – Anybody who sells or offers for sale greater than 0.60 caliber ammunition is guilty of a public offense. If convicted, the penalties include up to six months in county jail or one year in jail for a second offense.
Penal Code 18740 PC – Anybody who explodes or ignites an explosive or destructive device with the intent to injure is guilty of a felony crime. A conviction under this statute is punishable by three, five, seven years.
Penal Code 18745 PC – Anybody who explodes or ignites an explosive or destructive device with the intent to murder is guilty of a felony crime. A conviction under this statute is punished by up to life in prison.
Penal Code 18750 PC – Anybody who willfully and maliciously explodes or ignites an explosive or destructive device that causes injury is guilty of a felony crime. A conviction under this statute can be punished by five, seven, or nine years in prison.
Penal Code 18755 PC – Anybody who willfully and maliciously explodes or ignites an explosive or destructive device that kills someone is guilty of a felony crime. A conviction under this statute faces life in prison without parole.
Health and Safety Code 12500-12728 HS - Laws prohibiting illegal fireworks. As noted, this section is known as the state fireworks law and lists which prohibited fireworks. A violation of this section is punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 and imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year. If an individual is found with large quantities of illegal fireworks, they can face higher fines—up to $50,000 if they possess more than 5,000 pounds.
What Are the Defenses to HS 12085?
Explosives crimes allegations have several available defenses. It does not matter whether an accused knew or had reason to know that an explosive they were involved in actually was explosive.
An explosive's possession, production, or transportation does not require criminal intent. The primary defenses involve challenging whether the substance is an explosive under the state's definition. Perhaps the material does not fall under the category of an explosive.
Also, suppose law enforcement violated the law in uncovering and obtaining the explosives in question. In that case, a motion can be brought before the court to suppress the evidence from the case for the violation. In other words, the police lacked probable cause to detain and arrest you.
Finally, if an accused is permitted to possess, produce, or transport an explosive under binding local ordinance or regulation, then they can use this as a defense to avoid criminal liability.
We might be able to negotiate with the prosecuting agency for reduced charges or even a case dismissal. If our law firm gets involved early in the case process, we might be able to persuade the prosecutor from filing formal criminal charges, called prefiling intervention.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense law firm serving people across Southern California. You can contact us for an initial case consultation at (310) 328-3776 or fill out our contact form.