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When most Californians think about fireworks, they likely imagine holiday celebrations such as Independence Day or New Year’s Eve. If people do not set off fireworks correctly, it can be very dangerous. Because of the potential danger, California criminalizes furnishing dangerous fireworks to minors and makes it a serious crime potentially leading to a felony record and the possibility of prison time if you are convicted of the offense. If you have been charged with this offense, getting the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney is very important.
California Health and Safety Code § 12702
Under California Health and Safety Code § 12702, a person who sells, gives or delivers dangerous fireworks to a person who is under the age of 18 may be charged with the offense, which is normally charged as a misdemeanor. If, however, the fireworks that were furnished had an explosive material total weight of 7,500 grains, it could be charged as a felony.
What are dangerous fireworks in Los Angeles?
Dangerous fireworks include those that contain highly combustible or caustic chemicals. They also include Roman candles, rockets, firecrackers, sparklers that are longer than 10 inches, chasers, torpedoes, fireworks that explode with friction, those that create surprise when they are used such as trick matches and firework kits.
In cases in which the operator of a fireworks stand was presented with a fake identification card by a minor, and the seller had a reasonable belief that the minor was 18 or older, his or her attorney may defend against the case by asserting the mistake of fact defense to the charge. Mistake of fact is an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant’s attorney will present evidence in order to prove that a reasonable mistake of fact was made.
In some cases, there are times when undercover sting operations that are focused on the selling of dangerous fireworks to minors. If the person was aggressive and coerced or forced you into doing something you otherwise would not have done, your attorney may assert a defense of entrapment.
For the majority of first offenses, a conviction of furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor will be a misdemeanor carrying the potential of up to 12 months in jail. People may also be fined or placed on probation. Second or subsequent convictions are punishable by a year in jail and fines ranging from $500 to $1,000. No probation can be granted and the sentence may not be suspended for second or subsequent convictions.
If you are accused of providing 7,500 grains or more of dangerous fireworks to a minor, you may be charged with a wobbler offense. In California, a wobbler offense may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the prosecutor’s discretion. If you are charged and convicted of the felony, you could face up to three years in state prison.
The importance of getting experienced legal representation
Los Angeles courts treat the offense of furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor quite seriously. If you have been charged with this offense, you could face severe penalties if you are convicted. It is vitally important that you get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about this type of offense and who is skilled at negotiation. Your lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to extend a plea offer for a lesser offense. If you have a valid defense available to you, your lawyer may litigate the matter in order to try to win a dismissal of your charges. Schedule your consultation with our firm today to learn how we can help you.