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Penal Code 18715 PC | Possession in public or private place or on common carrier vehicle

Penal Code 18715 PC – Possession of Explosives in Public Places

Being charged with violating California Penal Code 18715 can lead to serious consequences. This law makes it illegal to possess explosives like firecrackers or pipe bombs in public areas where people are likely to gather. While explosives can seem fun or harmless, they become very dangerous in crowded venues. We need laws like PC 18715 to protect public safety. But even well-meaning people can accidentally break this law.

If you or a loved one is facing charges under PC 18715, don’t panic. There are defenses. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can often get charges reduced or dismissed. Let’s take a closer look at the law itself, penalties, and strategies to fight back.

What is Penal Code 18715 PC?

This statute states that “Every person who recklessly or maliciously has in possession any destructive device or any explosive in any of the following places is guilty of a felony.”

The law lists specific places where possession is illegal, including:

  • On a public street or highway
  • In or near a theater, hall, school, college, church, hotel, or other public building
  • In or near a private habitation
  • On a public conveyance like a bus, train, or airplane
  • In a harbor

As you can see, the common thread is possessing explosives in areas where lots of people gather. This elevates the danger to public safety.

What Qualifies as an Explosive Device?

PC 18715 covers a wide range of explosives, including:

  • Firecrackers
  • Dynamite
  • Grenades
  • Pipe bombs
  • Molotov cocktails
  • Fireworks like cherry bombs or M-80s

Pretty much anything that can explode and cause damage qualifies under this statute. The prosecution only needs to prove you possessed it in a prohibited public place.

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Penalties for Violating PC 18715

If convicted under Penal Code 18715, you face felony penalties of:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in California state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

The judge has discretion in choosing the exact sentence based on the facts of your case. Possession of large quantities or especially dangerous explosives may lead to harsher punishment.

Legal Defenses to PC 18715 Charges

While these charges seem scary, a good defense attorney can often get them reduced or dismissed. Here are some strategies we may use:

You Lacked Criminal Intent

PC 18715 requires you to “recklessly or maliciously” possess explosives. If you accidentally had firecrackers in your pocket and forgot, you may not have acted maliciously or recklessly.

You Had No Knowledge

Let’s say police found a pipe bomb in your spouse’s luggage at the airport. If you had no knowledge it was there, you cannot be convicted under PC 18715.

The Items Do Not Qualify as Explosives

To convict you, prosecutors must prove the items meet the legal definition of explosives or destructive devices. We can argue they do not.

You Had a Valid Permit

There are permits allowing possession of explosives in California. For example, people in the special effects industry often have permits. If you had a valid permit, the charges should be dismissed.

Illegal Search and Seizure

If police violated your rights by illegally detaining or searching you, any evidence found may be excluded. This could lead to dismissal of the charges.

Related Offenses

There are other California laws restricting possession of explosives and destructive devices:

Penal Code 18710 PC

This statute bans possession of explosives even in private places. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.[1]

Penal Code 18720 PC

This law prohibits possessing materials with intent to make an explosive device. It is a straight felony.[2]

Penal Code 18725 PC

Putting explosives in checked baggage or carrying them aboard a vessel, aircraft or vehicle is illegal under PC 18725. It is a felony.[3]

Penal Code 18730 PC

You cannot sell or transport explosives under this statute. It is a felony charge.[4]

Get an Experienced California Criminal Defense Lawyer

Dealing with explosives charges is scary. But with an aggressive defense, we can often get charges reduced or dismissed. Do not hesitate to contact our office and protect your future today.


  1. California Penal Code 18710 PC
  2. California Penal Code 18720 PC
  3. California Penal Code 18725 PC
  4. California Penal Code 18730 PC

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