California Penal Code 30210 – Bullets Containing an Explosive Agent

You could land in county jail with a misdemeanor or felony on your record if you are caught and charged with possessing bullets containing an explosive agent. Law enforcement takes any crimes involving weapons, ammunition, and explosives seriously – as does the prosecution.

The case can become too overwhelming without a legal defense attorney to help you. If you are being charged with this offense, it is highly recommended you find a trusted criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can.

For a more critical understanding of what this offense means, let’s review how California defines it.

Definition of Bullets containing an explosive agent

California outlines what this statute is under PC 30210. This law states it is a crime for someone to:

  • Manufacture or cause to be manufactured, imported, transported, sold, given, or possessed,
  • Ammunition containing or consisting of any flechette dart, also known as FD, or
  • Any bullet that contains or carries an explosive agent in it.

What is a flechette dart?

A flechette dart or FD is defined under California PC 16570. This law states a flechette dart is a dart capable of being shot out of a firearm. The dart usually measures around one inch in length and has some sort of tail-fin that measures around five-sixteenths of an inch compared to the darts’ body.

What is an explosive agent?

An explosive agent is outlined under California PC 16460 which states that any ammunition or projectile that contains any type of explosive, incendiary materials, other chemical substances, or combinations, thereof, and it has a common or primary purpose of relative or rapid detonation, combustion, or release of some sort of destructive material, substance, gas, or heat.

Shortlist of Explosive Agents

  • Flammable liquid with a flashpoint of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or less
  • A sealed amount of CO2 (dry ice) or similar reactive substances
  • Blasting agent such as nitro carbo nitrate substances
  • Dynamite or nitroglycerin
  • Black gunpowder or pellet powder
  • Mercury fulminate, picric acid, or similar primers

Even if the bullet does not explode when the gun is fired, if it contains unlawful explosive agents, it still falls under this law. For instance, bullets or ammunition that somehow contain TNT or C4 can still explode, but usually by destroying the firearm. This is because they are highly reactive substances, more so than any propellant powders used in todays’ bullets. Suffice it to say, ammunition that contains TNT or C4 would not have a chance to shoot out or fire before exploding in one’s hands.

Most bullets or firearm cartridges used today contain some form of smokeless gunpowder or propellant powder, which are not included as an explosive agent under this law.

The prohibited ammunition that is covered under PC 30210 is also restricted under California’s generally prohibited weapons law.

California PC 16590 – Generally prohibited weapons;

This statute is violated when someone manufactures, sells, and/or possesses certain dangerous and restricted weapons which are also referred to as generally prohibited weapons.

Aside from ammunition under PC 30210, other prohibited weapons covered by PC 16590 include:

  • Firearms and related equipment;
    • Camouflaged firearm containers, PC 24310
    • A cane that is also a gun, PC 24410
    • Unrecognizable firearms, PC 24510
    • Undetectable firearms, PC 24610
    • Wallet guns, PC 24710
    • Unconventional pistols, PC 31500
    • Multiburst trigger activators, PC 32900
    • Short-barreled shotguns and rifles, PC 33215
    • Zip guns, PC 33600
  • Knives or Swords
    • An air gauge knife, PC 20310
    • BBK (Belt-buckle knives), PC 20410
    • Canes that are also swords, PC 20510
    • Lipstick knives, PC 20610
    • Shobi-Zeus, PC 20710
    • Writing pen knives, PC 20910
    • Ballistic knives, PC 21110
  • Martial arts weapons
    • Nunchakus, PC 22010
    • Shurikens, PC 22410
  • Miscellaneous weapons,
    • Metal military-grade or practice grenades, including replicas, PC 19200
    • Brass knuckles, PC 21810
    • Leaded canes, batons, blackjacks, slungshots, sandclubs, or sandbags, PC 22210

Depending on the details of the case, some people could face both PC 30210 and PC 16590 offenses. Certain factors that are considered for multiple charges include the type of ammunition, the amount, the actions committed using them, and/or the intent behind making or importing them.

If any other weapons or ammunition were present, the defendant could likely face the penalties for each one. For example, if the defendant was caught with ammunition containing an explosive agent and firearms that were undetectable, they could face a PC 30210 offense along with a charge for possessing undetectable firearms, PC 24610.

Associated Offenses

A PC 30210 offense is similar to other explosives-related and weapons-related charges. It is not uncommon for someone to face multiple offenses. Finding legal representation who knows how to fight on your behalf can mean the difference between facing the maximum penalties for each offense or getting the charges reduced.

California PC 464 – Burglary with explosive devices;

This crime is committed if someone enters a building or dwelling, intending to commit a crime by using explosive devices or a blow torch to blow open a safe, vault, or other secured item or place.

California PC 18710 – possessing destructive devices;

This law prohibits the possession of bombs, explosive missiles, grenades as well as missiles, shells, or projectiles that contain incendiary materials, and certain rockets or rocket-propelled missiles, shells, or projectiles.

California PC 18720 – possessing materials to make destructive devices;

It is a crime to possess materials that are intended to be used in making destructive or explosive devices.

California PC 18730 – sale or transport of destructive devices;

The sale or transportation of destructive or explosive devices is a felony.

California PC 18740 – possessing explosives or destructive devices with the intent to injure or commit murder;

This crime is committed if you possessed explosive or destructive devices with the intent to injure, intimidate, or terrify someone else.

California PC 18745 – exploding, igniting, or starting destructive devices with the intent to injure or commit murder;

This crime is committed when someone who possesses explosive or destructive devices ignite said explosives with the intent to injure or kill another person.

California PC 18750 – exploding a destructive device which causes injury;

An individual is guilty of this crime if they maliciously intended to cause injury to another person by exploding a destructive device.

California PC 18755 – exploding a destructive device which causes great bodily injury, mayhem, or death;

A person is guilty of this crime if they intentionally exploded a destructive device with the malicious intent to cause GBI (great bodily injury), mayhem, or death of another individual.

California PC 30600 – assault weapons and rifles;

It is a crime to manufacture or cause to be manufactured, distributed, transported, imported, sold, or given away any assault rifles or BMG rifles in the state.

California PC 30605 – possession of assault weapons;

This law prohibits the possession of assault weapons in California.

What The Prosecution Must Do

For the prosecution to get a solid conviction for violating California’s bullets with an explosive agent law, they must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt the facts of the case. These factors are referred to as the elements of the crime.

Elements of the Crime

  • The defendant manufactured or caused to be manufactured, imported, transported, sold, given, or possessed,
  • Any ammunition which contained a flechette dart, or
  • Bullet(s) that contained an explosive agent inside.

Crimes related to weapons, explosives, and ammunition will garner the full attention of the prosecution. They will fight hard to pursue a conviction, especially in cases where the defendant manufactured or caused to be manufactured a high number of flechette darts or explosive ammunition.

Who Can Be Charged

For a better understanding of what situations can lead to a charge for PC 30210, take a look at these examples. They illustrate what it means to violate this statute as well as the illegal acts that can lead to facing this offense.

If you can relate to any of the following cases, it is highly recommended you find a criminal defense lawyer who can challenge these charges on your behalf.

Example 1

Burt goes to Eugene, Oregon to purchase ammunition containing various explosive agents. He drives them back to his home in Chula Vista, California where he modifies one of his rifles to fit this new ammo.

Burt could be charged with PC 30210 for transporting ammunition containing explosive agents across state lines. He could also face a weapons charge if the modifications he made to his rifle were illegal or if he possessed a sawed-off (short-barreled) rifle, PC 33215.

Example 2

Andrew is a weapons expert and wants to enter a competition for creating unique projectiles, including ammo. Using the bullets in his gun safe, he modifies them to contain different types of explosive chemicals with varying degrees of damage potential. He also modifies some of his ammo to fit different shaped flechette darts he manufactured from various scrap metals.

Even though Andrew’s reasoning was to enter a competition, he would still be charged with creating unlawful, explosive bullets and ammo containing flechette darts under PC 30210.

Example 3

Jorge asked his girlfriend, Yvonne, to store some of his weapons and ammo in her storage unit. He informed her they were specially made and cannot be bought in stores. Jorge showed off some of the bullet designs, which had different colored skulls and bones etched into them. When Yvonne asked, “What makes them so special? What’s in them?” He replies, “red etching means they’ll explode, and green means they contain poison.” Knowing this, she still agrees and even helps him transport his collection to her storage unit.

Jorge would be guilty of PC 30210 for manufacturing the illegal ammunition. Yvonne could face charges even though she did not manufacture it, she is still guilty of knowingly transporting and storing it.

A professional legal defense team will be familiar with the common legal arguments used to dispute a PC 30210 charge. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by the prospect of facing a felony. A legal defense lawyer can help you fight these charges to gain the best possible outcome.

These are just some examples of the legal defenses that have been used to fight such charges.

Were you coerced or under duress?

Coercion or duress implies the defendant was not acting under their own free will. Being forced, threatened, or intimidated to manufacture or cause the manufacturing, distribution, sale, or import of bullets containing explosive agents or being forced to possess such ammunition means the defendant was not intentionally acting. Force, threats, or other means of intimidation was the only reason they acted.

If the defendant was only complying because they were under duress, they should not be guilty of PC 30210. For example, Aimee was threatened by her boyfriend into hiding some of his assault weapons and explosive ammunition for a few weeks. He told her if she didn’t, he would cut out her tongue and feed it to his dog. She was under a reasonable belief to fear for her safety if she did not comply with his wishes and should not be charged with this offense.

Are you free from prosecution?

Some people are exempt from prosecution of PC 30210. Although not many professions fall under these exemptions, there are two that do: members of law enforcement and antique dealers. They are, to some extent, allowed to possess, transfer, or sell these items. However, they can still be prosecuted if they acted with criminal intent to manufacture, distribute, possess, transfer, or sell these objects.

Penalties for PC 30210

If convicted of possessing bullets that contain an explosive agent, you will face:

Misdemeanor;

Summary (misdemeanor) probation,

A possible county jail term of up to one year, and/or

Fines as high as one thousand dollars.

Felony;

Felony (formal) probation,

A potential three years in county jail, and/or

Up to ten thousand dollars in fines.

Enhanced Penalties

It is important to note that any weapons-related offense on one’s criminal record, regardless of whether it was a misdemeanor or felony, will impact future interactions with law enforcement. Anytime members of law enforcement look up someone’s record, if they see you have a weapon or ammunition charge, they will be more defensive.

The judge has the discretion to decide whether penalties for multiple offenses be served consecutively or concurrently. Consecutive means the defendant must serve one sentence after the other. For example, if the defendant is convicted of three different crimes and sentenced to one year in county jail for each crime, the defendant would have a total of three years to be served.

Concurrent means the penalties for all crimes would start at the same time. If they are convicted of three offenses and each offense carries a one-year county jail term, the judge or courts can decide that the sentencing begins all at once. In other words, as soon as the defendant begins serving time for one offense, the jail sentences for the other offenses will begin as well.

Gun Rights

California’s PC 29800 felon with a firearm law, states whoever is a convicted felon cannot acquire, purchase, or possess a firearm. If the defendant is convicted of a felony PC 30210 offense, they will lose their gun rights.

Immigration Status

One’s immigration status will only be impacted if convicted of certain crimes that fall under California’s definition of “crimes of moral turpitude.” Luckily, unless aggravating factors were involved in one’s PC 30210 case, a misdemeanor or felony conviction for this offense will not result in changes to one’s immigration status.

California PC 16590 – Generally prohibited weapons;

Misdemeanor;

As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Fines as high as one thousand dollars.

Felony;

Up to three years in county jail, and/or

Fines as high as ten thousand dollars.

California PC 464 – Burglary with explosive devices;

Felony;

Formal probation,

Up to seven years in state prison, and/or

Fines as high as ten thousand dollars.

California PC 18710 – possessing destructive devices;

Misdemeanor;

As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Up to one thousand dollars in fines.

Felony;

16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison, and/or

As much as ten thousand dollars in fines.

California PC 18720 – possessing materials to make destructive devices;

Felony;

Formal (felony) probation,

2, 3, or 4 years in county jail, and/or

Up to ten thousand dollars in fines.

California PC 18730 – sale or transport of destructive devices;

Felony;

2, 3, or 4 years in county jail.

California PC 18740 – possessing explosives or destructive devices with the intent to injure or commit murder;

Felony;

Between 3 and 7 years in county jail.

California PC 18745 – exploding, igniting, or starting destructive devices with the intent to injure or commit murder;

Felony;

Life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

California PC 18750 – exploding a destructive device which causes injury;

Felony;

5, 7, or 9 years in state prison.

California PC 18755 – exploding a destructive device which causes great bodily injury, mayhem, or death;

Felony;

A life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole.

California PC 30600 – unlawful acts with assault weapons and rifles;

Felony;

As long as eight years in county jail, or

Felony (formal) probation.

California PC 30605 – possession of assault weapons;

Infraction;

A five hundred dollar fine.

Misdemeanor;

Up to one year in county jail, and/or

Fines as high as one thousand dollars.

Felony;

16 months, 2, or 3 years in county jail.

Let us Help

California takes any crimes involving weapons, explosives, or ammunition seriously and will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. If you or someone you care about is facing a PC 30210 offense and are located in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County, do not put off contacting a criminal defense attorney. Allow the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum to help with the case. Attorney Yum’s professional experience with the prosecution gives her critical insight into what to expect and how to fight these allegations.

Contact us for more information on this law or any similar offenses. We can help. If you would like to schedule your no-obligation, free consultation simply call us at 619-233-4433 or use our online contact form. We welcome all inquiries.