Fourth of July is supposed to be a time of celebration, with Americans engaging in traditional celebrations that often include barbecues, pool parties and fireworks. It’s that last item – fireworks – that is making headlines in recent days as fireworks-related injury reports become national news. In Florida, professional football player Jason Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated after a July 4 weekend fireworks accident. Meanwhile, in Maine, a 22-year-old man was killed after he set off a firework perched on top of his head.
These are just a few examples of the dangers posed by the use of fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 11,000 people visited emergency rooms from June 21 to July 21, 2014 to be treated for fireworks-related injuries. Moreover, nine people were killed as a result of fireworks in 2014.
The reality is that some people watch the fireworks displays, while other people choose to participate in the fireworks-filled celebrations. Anytime fireworks are set off, there is the potential for serious injuries, which is why New Jersey prohibits the sale and/or use of fireworks without a permit. (These permits are typically only given to professionals.)
Fourth of July may be the most popular day in the country for fireworks but it’s by no means the only day. New Jersey’s fireworks laws have severe penalties – every day of the year.
The Fireworks Law in New Jersey
New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware outlaw the commercial sale of fireworks, while four other states – Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Vermont – allow only sparklers and other novelty fireworks. New Jersey goes a step further than most states by prohibiting residents from privately using fireworks.
Many NJ residents get around the state’s ban on fireworks sales by driving to the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border to purchase fireworks and other explosives. As for the ban on the private use of fireworks, many New Jersey residents risk jail time by simply ignoring the law and setting off fireworks in their backyards anyway.
As set forth by N.J.S.A. 21:3-1, the Explosives and Fireworks Act, anyone who is caught using or transporting fireworks in New Jersey without a valid permit can be charged with a petty disorderly persons offense and is subject to a sentence of up to 30 days in the county jail and a fine of $500. The penalties are particularly harsh for anyone accused of possessing fireworks with the intent to sell them: as set forth by N.J.S.A. 21:3-2, possession with intent to sell fireworks is a fourth degree felony, which is punishable by a sentence of up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a fine of $10,000.
If you have purchased fireworks, whether they are firecrackers, bottle rockets or sparklers, you could be at risk of severe penalties. That’s why it is imperative that you speak with an experienced attorney before you discuss matters with the local prosecutor.
The legal team at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC is passionate about defending clients against criminal charges, including charges for illegal possession of fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations. Call us anytime to discuss your situation or schedule a free consultation about your case.