Health & Safety Code 12702 HS is the California statute that makes it a crime to sell, give, or deliver dangerous fireworks to minors. A violation of this law is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1000.00.
The language of HS 12702 states:
“A person who violates this part by selling, giving, or delivering any dangerous fireworks to any person under 18 years of age is guilty of a misdemeanor…”
- selling firecrackers to a teenager.
- giving a fireworks kit to a 13-year-old.
- delivering roman candles to a high school student.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help clients defend against charges under this statute. A few common ones include lawyers showing that:
- the defendant did not have a “dangerous firework,”
- the accused was entrapped, and/or
- the minor lied about his/her age.
The crime is punishable by:
- custody in county jail for up to one year, and/or
- a fine of between $500 and $1,000.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss the following in this article:
- 1. How does California law define the crime of “furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor”?
- 2. Are there defenses to Health & Safety Code 12702 HS?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Are there related offenses?
1. How does California law define the crime of “furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor”?
People commit the offense of furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor if they:
- sell, give, or deliver any “dangerous firework,” and
- do so to a person under eighteen years of age.1
For the provisions of section 12702, “dangerous fireworks” include any of the following:
- fireworks that contain certain dangerous chemicals, such as arsenic sulfide, boron, chlorates, gallic acid, mercury salts, picric acid, thiocyanates, or phosphorus (except that red phosphorus is permissible in caps and party poppers),
- skyrockets and rockets,
- roman candles,
- sparklers more than 10 inches in length or one-fourth of an inch in diameter,
- all fireworks designed to create the element of surprise upon the user (such as auto-foolers and exploding golf balls),
- a firework known as devil-on-the-walk,
- torpedoes which explode on impact, and
- fireworks kits.2
Note that California’s fireworks laws divide fireworks into two categories: dangerous fireworks and “safe and sane” fireworks. Dangerous fireworks are always considered illegal fireworks except for use by a licensed operator. Safe and sane fireworks can be sold by licensed retailers from June 28th to July 6th of each year, and can be used by the public but subject to certain limitations.
“Safe and sane” fireworks are those that have not been classified as “dangerous.”
2. Are there defenses to Health & Safety Code 12702 HS?
People accused of a crime under this code section can challenge the accusation with a legal defense. Three common defenses include defendants showing that:
- they did not have a dangerous firework.
- they were entrapped.
- the minor lied about his/her age.
2.1. No dangerous fireworks
This statute only applies to so-called “dangerous fireworks.” This means an accused can always use the defense that, while he/she may have engaged in the sale of fireworks to a minor, such fireworks were not dangerous. Perhaps, for example, they were sparklers less than 10 inches in length.
In many HS 12702 cases, suspects are often arrested and accused after an undercover sting. Any later charges, though, must get dropped if the officer lured a suspect into committing a crime.
This “luring” is known as entrapment. It applies to overbearing official conduct on the part of police officers, like pressure, harassment, fraud, flattery, or threats. Entrapment is an acceptable legal defense provided that the accused shows he/she only committed the crime because of the entrapment.
2.3. Minor lied
Recall that people are only guilty under this code section if they sell, give, or deliver a dangerous firework to a minor. A defense, then, is for defendants to show that they reasonably believed the other person was over 18. Perhaps, for example, this other person lied about his/her age or used a fake ID.
3. What are the penalties?
A violation of this law is a misdemeanor in the State of California.3
The crime is punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to one year, and/or
- a fine between five hundred dollars and one thousand dollars.4
A judge does have the authority to award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation in lieu of jail time.
Note that for a second or subsequent conviction for furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor, a defendant will face an additional fine of five thousand dollars and will not be eligible for probation.5
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor. These are:
- contributing to the delinquency of a minor – PC 272,
- possession of a destructive device – PC 18710, and
- possession of destructive device materials – PC 18720.
4.1. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – PC 272
Per Penal Code 272 PC, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is the crime where people act or fail to act in a way that causes a minor to:
- engage in illegal or delinquent behavior,
- become a habitual truant, or
- become a dependent of the juvenile court system.
Depending on the facts of the case, if a person furnishes a dangerous firework to a minor, a prosecutor could charge that party with both:
- Penal Code 272, and
- Health & Safety Code 12702.
4.2. Possession of a destructive device – PC 18710
Per Penal Code 18710 PC, possession of a destructive device is the crime where people possess a “destructive device,” like a bomb, grenade, or a projectile carrying an explosive material.
California law treats a violation of this statute as a more severe crime than a violation of HS 12702. Possession of a destructive device can lead to a felony charge punishable by up to three years in state prison.
4.3. Possession of destructive device materials – PC 18720
Under Penal Code 18720 PC, possession of destructive device materials is the crime where people possess materials for the purpose of making a destructive device.
As with HS 12702, defendants can use the entrapment defense to challenge accusations under PC 18720 if they were arrested following an undercover sting.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
Our lawyers also represent clients throughout California State, including those in Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Bernardino County.
- California Health & Safety Code 12702 HSC.
- California Health & Safety Code 12505 HS.
- California Health & Safety Code 12702 HS.
- California Health & Safety Code 12700 HS.
- California Health & Safety Code 12702b HS.