Do Fireworks Lead to Criminal Charges in New Jersey?

As the Fourth of July Approaches, many people will be out and celebrate. One of the most popular ways for people to enjoy the holiday and the long weekend is by going to enjoy a fireworks display. However, some people take it upon themselves to have their own fireworks display. While many think it is harmless to have some sparklers and set off some bottle rockets over the holiday weekend they could be setting themselves up to receive a fine or even a stay in jail for lighting off fireworks.

Are Fireworks Legal in New Jersey?

New Jersey’s laws on fireworks, N.J.S.A. 21:2-1 et seq. and N.J.S.A. 21:3-1 et seq., are very restrictive. In some states, fireworks are permitted to be sold to, and used by, the public. However, New Jersey has taken an aggressive stance against fireworks and has declared that they are prohibited in the state. Section 21:2-6 of the New Jersey Code states that:

“It shall be unlawful to manufacture, sell, transport or use dangerous fireworks within the state. In addition, to stating that it is unlawful to use fireworks the legislature has also provided a list of devices that are to be considered fireworks including:

  • Balloons Requiring Fire Underneath to Propel Them
  • Blank Cartridges
  • Bombs
  • Firecrackers
  • Fireworks Containing Any Explosive or Inflammable Compound
  • Roman Candles
  • Skyrockets
  • Sparklers and Other Fireworks of Like Construction
  • Tablets or Other Devices Commonly Used and Sold as Fireworks
  • Torpedoes
  • Toy Canes or Toy Guns in Which Explosives are Used
  • Toy Cannons
  • Toy Pistols
  • Any Compound Containing Nitrates, Chlorates, Oxalates, Sulphides of Lead, Barium, Antimony, Arsenic, Mercury, Nitroglycerine, Phosphorus or Any Other Explosive
  • Any Substance, Combination of Substances, or Article Prepared for the Purpose of Producing a Visible or Audible Effect by Combustion, Explosion, Deflagration or Detonation Other Than Aviation and Railroad Signal Light Flares”

It may seem that New Jersey is being a bit unfair considering that in some neighboring states such as Pennsylvania where fireworks are not as prohibited. In fact, an article on highlighted that many New Jersey residents were driving across the border to Pennsylvania to buy fireworks.


What are Common Fireworks injuries?

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year over 230 people goes to the emergency room with fireworks-related personal injuries around the July 4th Holiday.

Out of these injuries, the most common injuries burns account for over fifty percent of all injuries.

In addition, the most common injuries occur to the:

  • Hands and fingers – often fireworks come with fuses which can be very short, or move faster than a person thinks that they will. In these cases, it is very easy for a person to be holding a firework or other explosive device when it explodes causing injuries to hands and fingers.
  • Head, face, and eyes – the head, face, and eyes were the second most likely part of the body that was injured during the holiday weekend. Again because of the short amount of time between lighting a firework and when it explodes this can cause burn injuries. In addition, many of these devices shoot out projectile pieces, which can land on your face or in your eye causing injury.

Residents should remember that fireworks are dangerous explosive devices that can lead to severe injuries and even lead to death.

What are the Possible Penalties?

While cities all across New Jersey will have fireworks displays this holiday weekend, you should be wary of trying to start your own fireworks displays. The penalties for possessing and using fireworks can greatly impact the rest of your summer and even leave you with a criminal record. Specifically N.J.S.A. 21:3-8. States that:

Any person who sells, offers or exposes for sale, or possesses with intent to sell any fireworks as herein mentioned is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. Any person who purchases, uses, discharges, causes to be discharged, ignites, fires, or otherwise sets in action, or possesses any fireworks is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense.

This means that you can be charged with a crime in the fourth degree or as a petty disorderly persons offense.  As a penalty for a fourth-degree crime, a person may be sentenced to up to eighteen months in prison and a fine up to $10,000. A petty disorderly person offense, on the other hand, is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $500.

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Where can I watch Fireworks in Atlantic City?

Maybe after reading this page you have wisely decided not to have your own fireworks display this summer and would like to take advantage of some of the fireworks displays that are around and in Atlantic City. Official DOAC Atlantic City fireworks viewing party will be held at Landshark Bar & Grill on Monday, July 4th at 5PM. This event is open to the public and free of charge. This might be a much safe and enjoyable experience for you and your family this holiday weekend.

Contact an Atlantic City Criminal Lawyer If You Were Charged With Violating New Jersey Fireworks Laws

We offer free and confidential initial consultations. If you are seeking aggressive and strategic Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer, call us at (609) 616-4956.

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