Fireworks Dos and Don'ts: What Can Land You in Jail

Fireworks are illegal in most Santa Clara County cities, including Milpitas. Here are three things everyone should know before celebrating this holiday weekend.

Around the Bay Area, professional Fourth of July fireworks displays are the way many people celebrate the holiday.

Some, however, remember an earlier time in the Valley when families would celebrate at home with fireworks purchased at ubiquitous roadside stands that now only exist  in Santa Clara County, in Alameda County, and  in Santa Cruz County. Sales of fireworks have long since been banned in all other cities.

If you've thought about making the trek, here are the top three things you should know about fireworks in Santa Clara County, according to Amy Cornell, Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Media Coordinator:

What is the fine/penalty for possession of illegal fireworks?  

Under California Health & Safety Code section 12677, it is unlawful for any person to possess dangerous fireworks without holding a valid permit. 

Any person who violates this law is guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be punished by a fine ranging from $500 and $1000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail up to a year.  (See HSC 12700[a].)  

Are there related charges (distribution of illegal fireworks, use of illegal fireworks?)  

There are many charges related to the illegal possession and distribution of fireworks.

These charges include:

  • Illegal advertising of fireworks (HSC 12670);
  • Conducting an illegal fireworks display (HSC 12685);
  • Illegal sale of fireworks (HSC 12687, 12671, 12676);
  • and illegal storage of fireworks (HSC 12673).  

What are those penalties?  

The penalties for fireworks-related offense are generally codified in California Health & Safety Code section 12700. 

At the low end, the penalties include a misdemeanor conviction, a fine ranging from $500 to $1000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year. 

At the high end, the penalties include a felony conviction, fines up to $50,000, and/or imprisonment in state prison for three years.  Please consult the Health and Safety Code for specific answers regarding the penalties for particular offenses.

- L.A. Chung contributed to this report


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