Health and Safety Code 42400 HS - California’s Laws on Air Pollution Control

Health and Safety Code sections 42400, 42400.1, 42400.2, 42400.3, 42400.3.5, and 42400.4 all make it a crime for a party to violate a California State law that regulates air pollution. A violation of any of these sections is a misdemeanor. An offense can lead to custody in county jail for up to one year.

Health and Safety Code 42400 HS is a general provision that states that it is a misdemeanor offense if an entity violates a law designed to protect the quality of the State's air. The statute authorizes the use of jail time and fines to punish any violation of these laws.

Health and Safety Code 42400.1 HS makes it a crime for an entity to negligently emit any air contaminant in violation of state law, rule or regulation.

Health and Safety Code 42400.2 makes it a criminal offense for a party to knowingly emit an air contaminant in violation of state law.

Health and Safety Code 42400.3 makes it a misdemeanor for a person or business to willfully and intentionally emit an air contaminant in violation of state law. “Willfully” means to do something on purpose.

Health and Safety Code 42400.3.5 makes it an offense if a party:

  1. knowingly violates a State law regarding air pollution, and
  2. that law was passed pursuant to the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. Section 7412(l)).

Health and Safety Code 42400.4 applies to Title V permit programs issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under these programs, the EPA issues permits to entities that help limit the emission of air contaminants. This law makes it a crime for a party knowingly to violate any permit condition.

Examples

  • a business recklessly emits lead into the air.
  • an entity releases carbon dioxide knowing that it is in violation of California law.
  • a business knowingly violates an air pollution law that falls under the Clean Air Act.

Defenses

A defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an allegation of violating these laws. A few common defenses include the accused showing that:

  • he/she/it did not violate a California law regarding air pollution,
  • the defendant did not act with the requisite level of fault, and/or
  • he/she/it took corrective actions after violating the law.

Penalties

A violation of any of the above laws is a misdemeanor. This is opposed to a felony or an infraction.

Crimes under these code sections are punishable by:

  • custody in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • significant fines.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

air pollution from coal plant
A violation of Health and Safety Code 42400 HS sections can result in a misdemeanor penalty.

1. Are there legal defenses to violating a California HS 42400 law?

Defense lawyers draw on several legal strategies to contest charges under these laws. These include showing that:

  1. the defendant did not violate a California law regarding air pollution.
  2. the accused did not act with the level of fault set forth in the statute.
  3. The accused took corrective actions after emitting an air contaminant.

1.1. No violation of a law regarding air pollution

The majority of these laws start with the premise that it is an offense for an entity to violate a California law regarding air pollution. The laws then set forth different penalties depending on a party's level of fault. A defense, therefore, is for a defendant to say that he/she/it never violated a law or ordinance involving air pollution.

1.2. Did not act with appropriate level of fault

Some of these laws say that is an offense for a defendant to:

  1. violate a State law on air pollution, and
  2. do so with a particular level of fault.

These levels of fault include acting:

  • negligently,
  • knowingly, and
  • willfully.1

A defense, then, is for an accused to show that he/she/it did not act in any of these ways.

1.3. Corrective actions

This defense applies to HS 42400.2 violations. The law says that it is an offense if a party:

  1. knowingly violates a law regarding air pollution, and
  2. fails to take corrective actions within a reasonable time period.2

This means it is always a defense for an entity to say that, while it violated a law, it took corrective actions.

Corrective actions” mean either:

  • stopping an emission violation, or
  • the State granting a variance from the applicable law.3
money under gavel
A violation of these laws can result in a fine and/or jail time

2. What are the penalties for violating these laws?

A violation of any of these laws is a misdemeanor offense. The specific penalties, though, differ depending on whether a party violated:

  • HS 42400.1,
  • HS 42400.2,
  • HS 42400.3,
  • HS 42400.3.5, or
  • HS 42400.4.

2.1. HS 42400.1

A violation of this statute is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to nine months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $25,000.4

2.2. HS 42400.2

A violation of this law is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $40,000.5

2.3. HS 42400.3

A violation of this code section is punishable by:

  • custody in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $75,000.6

2.4. HS 42400.3.5

A violation of this statute is punishable by:

  • custody in county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $10,0007

2.5. HS 42400.4

A violation of this code section is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.8

A party will not receive jail time for a violation of this law.

For additional help...

california air pollution attorneys
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For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

Legal References:

  1. California Health and Safety Code 42400.1 HS requires a “negligent “violation of a law. California Health and Safety Code 42400.2 HS requires an entity to violate a law “knowingly.” California Health and Safety Code 42400.3 requires a “willful” violation of the law.

  2. California Health and Safety Code 42400.2 HS.

  3. California Health and Safety Code 42400.2b HS.

  4. California Health and Safety Code 42400.1a HS.

  5. California Health and Safety Code 42400.2a HS.

  6. California Health and Safety Code 42400.3a HS.

  7. California Health and Safety Code 42400.3.5a HS.

  8. California Health and Safety Code 42400.4a HS.

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