If you are caught with illegal fireworks in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Nevada, the cops may not only confiscate them . . . you can also be cited or even arrested and face high fines and jail time.
And even if you have legal fireworks, but you use them in an unsafe manner, you could face criminal charges for that as well.
In this article our Nevada criminal defense attorneys explain the law and penalties for illegal fireworks in Clark County, and how we may be able to persuade the prosecutors to reduce or dismiss the charges.
Are fireworks legal in Nevada?
It depends . . . as explained in the following sections, each county has its own laws regulating fireworks. (NRS 244.367) But note that fireworks are always illegal in the following locations no matter what Nevada county you are in:
- streets and sidewalks
- school district property
- any federal, state or city property, such as parks and recreational areas like Lake Mead, Red Rock, Mount Charleston, and Spring Mountain (NRS 473.090)
This article discusses the laws pertaining only to "consumer fireworks" (class C fireworks) that are used recreationally by private citizens, and not to "display fireworks" used by licensed pyro-technicians.
Are fireworks legal in Clark County?
All fireworks are illegal in Clark County except for a certain, low-risk variety and only during the week prior to July 4. In order for fireworks to be legal in Las Vegas, they have to meet all of the following conditions:
- The fireworks carry the "Safe-N-Sane" emblem (which means they do not rocket, explode or leave the ground once they are ignited),
- The fireworks are sold by licensed vendors approved by the fire department in special booths located in Clark County (there are more than 400 vendors, and they are typically run by nonprofit groups such as booster organizations), and
- The fireworks are sold anytime during the week from June 28th to July 4th . . . and once July 4th is over, you may no longer possess or use them.
In short, even the Safe-N-Sane fireworks are illegal to possess in Clark County for all but one week out of the year. So if you have any fireworks left over after July 4th, you should contact your local fire department to take them off your hands.
Examples of fireworks that are always illegal in Clark County, even during July 4th, include
- roman candles,
- bottle rockets,
- black cats,
- trick matches,
- black jacks,
- lady fingers,
- mortar shells,
- cigarette loads,
- autofoolers, and
- sparklers more than 10 inches in length or more than a ¼ inch in diameter.
Can I bring illegal fireworks into Clark County from elsewhere?
No. Even if the fireworks you transport into Clark County were perfectly legal where you obtained them, it is still a crime to bring them into Clark County.
But how would I be caught transporting fireworks into Clark County?
In recent years the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have cracked down on this issue by setting up traffic checkpoints (similar to Las Vegas DUI checkpoints) during peak times to search cars for illegal fireworks. A typical location for Clark County fireworks checkpoints is the stretch of Blue Diamond Road connecting Nye County (where many fireworks are legal) to Clark County, and these checkpoints occur mostly during the week before July 4th.
It should be noted that bringing fireworks on a plane (or trying to) is illegal everywhere in the U.S and carries extremely harsh felony penalties.
What if I am caught with illegal fireworks in Clark County?
If you are caught with illegal fireworks in Las Vegas, the cop will confiscate the fireworks and likely issue you a citation for a misdemeanor. But if you have an outstanding Nevada arrest warrant or resist receiving the citation, the cop may arrest you as well.
Is it true you can legally buy non-Safe-N-Sane fireworks in Nye County?
Yes, it is legal to buy fireworks that are not "Safe-N-Sane" in Nye County during the week prior to July 4th . . . but the laws there are very confusing because you are not allowed to possess or use any type of fireworks in Nye County! You cannot even possess or use "Safe and Sane" fireworks there. So before you are allowed to purchase fireworks in Pahrump, you have to sign a waiver pledging that the fireworks will be taken outside of Nye County within twenty-four hours.
Is it true you can legally buy non-Safe-N-Sane fireworks in the Moapa Indian Reservation?
Yes. Since the Moapa Indian reservation is not obliged to follow state or local fireworks laws, vendors there may sell fireworks that are not "Safe-N-Sane." But customers are usually required to immediately ignite them on the flat, sand-covered "launching pads" that the vendors provide behind the stores.
What are the penalties for illegal fireworks in Clark County?
it is a misdemeanor to buy, possess or transport fireworks in Clark County (with the exception of Safe-and-Sane fireworks in the week leading up to Fourth of July). The prosecutor will usually agree to close out the case for a fine of a few hundred dollars, but the maximum possible penalties include:
- up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
- up to six months in jail. (Clark County Code 13.12.310)
It is also a misdemeanor to ignite fireworks within one hundred (100) feet of a fireworks booth, gas station or anywhere else with flammable materials. (Clark County Code 13.12.100) And if the fireworks caused damage to property in Las Vegas, the judge may also order you to pay restitution no matter whether the fireworks were legal or not
Someone who allegedly uses fireworks in willful disregard of others' safety may face charges for "reckless endangerment" in Nevada, which carries up to five years of incarceration depending on if someone got hurt or killed. (NRS 202.595) And if you are charged with maliciously or willfully using fireworks to damage or destroy property, you face up to two years to life in prison depending on the extent of the damage and injuries. (NRS 202.830)
If I get cited or arrested for illegal fireworks, how can I fight the case?
How best to fight a fireworks-related charge in Nevada depends on the specific facts of your case. The most common defense is showing that fireworks did not belong to you and that you wielded no control over them.
If it is your first offense, the prosecutor may be agreeable to dismissing your case for just the fine. Otherwise, the D.A. may agree to reduce it to a less serious misdemeanor such as "Disturbing the Peace" in Nevada.
Even though illegal fireworks possession can be a relatively minor offense in Nevada, it is important to retain an attorney to try to get your case dismissed so that your criminal record stays clean. Otherwise, the conviction will stay on your record for at least two years before you can try to get it sealed.
Phone us for help . . . .
Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are eager to try to get your Nevada illegal fireworks case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.
For information on California fireworks law, go to our page on California fireworks law.