July 4th has come and gone and left a wake of arrests in New York City in its path. During our recent annual Independence Day celebration, some individuals came away with little worth celebrating.
The day after, it was reported that New York City Police seized over $54,000 worth of illegal fireworks, six illegal firearms, and made 22 arrests. Most of these arrests took place in Brooklyn.
While many states have eased fireworks laws in the past few years, the state of New York still has some of the strictest fireworks laws in the nation. Even sparklers are highly regulated, and it’s important for those who wish to celebrate holidays to understand the laws as they apply to their own city or county, so they aren’t putting themselves at risk for potential criminal charges.
Potential Criminal Penalties for Fireworks Violations in New York City
While some counties and municipalities in New York have legalized some forms of fireworks in the past few years, New York City remains one place where setting off any airborne fireworks is unlawful. Here, we have strict laws against setting off fireworks in addition to buying, selling, or transporting them. Charges can include:
● Violation for even possessing or exploding fireworks
● Class B misdemeanor for selling or furnishing fireworks
● Class A misdemeanor for selling or furnishing fireworks with a value of over $500
● Class A misdemeanor for selling or furnishing fireworks to a minor
● Class E felony for selling or furnishing fireworks to a minor if you have been previously convicted for the offense
While possessing or exploding fireworks is only a non-criminal violation, possessing fireworks worth $150 or more qualifies as having the intent to sell and carries a misdemeanor charge.
Even sparklers are unlawful in New York City. New York law defines a sparkler as a device that produces colored flames, sparks, makes whistling or crackling noises, or gives off smoke and contains no more than 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition. These include hand-held sparklers, fountains, poppers, snakes, snappers, or various other devices.
While some types of fireworks have been legalized in the state, these are limited to ground-based fireworks. Any aerial fireworks, firecrackers, roman candles, skyrockets, wire sparklers, and others are still illegal in the state of New York.
Illegal Fireworks Potentially Coming in From Neighboring States
While adjacent states, including New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, have relaxed their fireworks laws, we have not. In fact, over the past few years, some have called for increased criminal penalties for selling or using consumer fireworks.
Local officials have raised alarms about illegal fireworks pouring into the state from these neighboring states. Mayor de Blasio promised a sting operation to focus on anywhere that fireworks were being sold around New York City to ensure that illegal fireworks weren’t being sold in the city.
Despite all the concern, however, up until these recent arrests, they have been on the decline over the past few years.
Not Worth a Criminal Record
A little bit of celebrating isn’t worth a criminal record. If you have been charged with a fireworks offense, you should get the guidance of an experienced New York City criminal defense lawyer. Contact the criminal defense team at Bukh Law Firm to discuss your legal options.