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Allegations of crime and the need for a criminal defense attorney do not stop because of national events. In the news recently, as the country winds down the current election cycle, one story has unfortunately garnered a lot of headlines – that of accused mail bomber Cesar Sayoc. Mr. Sayoc has been accused, through a fingerprint lifted from a bomb mailed to Representative Maxine Waters, of mailing at least 14 bombs to various individuals and organizations around the country. Mr. Sayoc has been charged with five federal crimes, and could face up to 48 years in prison. To fully protect his rights, he should, as well as anyone in his situation, retain an attorney experienced in criminal defense law, including a knowledge of federal crimes. In addition, Mr. Sayoc could face similar crimes, but at the state level. A discussion of federal explosive crimes, as well as their California equivalent, will follow below.


Federal Law


Firearms are some of the most federally- and state- regulated objects in this country, and explosives are one of the few items that are even more regulated. Essentially, the Attorney General regulates the manufacture, storage, and shipment of explosive materials. Any dealers who learn of a theft or loss of explosives from their inventory must report this to the Attorney General immediately, typically, within 24 hours of discovery. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $10,000.00, or a prison sentence of up to five years. Additionally, the following individuals are not even permitted to possess explosive materials:


  • Those under 21;
  • Fugitives;
  • Illegal aliens;
  • Those without permanent residence in the U.S.;
  • Dishonorably discharged veterans;
  • Those convicted of a felony (i.e., a sentence of at least one year), or those on trial for a felony;
  • Those convicted of drug-related crimes;
  • Those convicted of domestic assault, or who have a restraining order relating to domestic assault;
  • Those adjudicated mentally ill, or who live in a facility for the mentally ill; and
  • Residents of a State where state laws prohibit possession.


California Law


California is one of those States with a possession prohibition. Essentially, California proscribes possession of a substance or material, or combination, which is intended to make a destructive device. Under this law, a destructive device could be considered any one of the following:


  • A projectile containing explosive or incendiary material;
  • A bomb, grenade, explosive missile, or similar device;
  • Any device for launching such a weapon;
  • Any weapon greater than 0.60 caliber that fires fixed ammunition, as well as the ammunition for this type of weapon;
  • Any rocket, rocket-propelled projectile, or similar device of a diameter greater than 0.60 inch and/or containing any explosive or incendiary material, as well as related launching devices (flares are excluded);
  • Any breakable container containing a flammable liquid with a flashpoint of no more than 150 °F, with an ignitor (lanterns are excluded); and
  • Any sealed device containing a chemically-reactive material, which is assembled for the purpose of causing an explosion.


Possession of materials for making explosives or a destructive device is a felony in California. The potential penalties are felony, or formal, probation; between two and four years in a county jail, or a fine of up to $10,000.00 In addition to flares and lanterns, it should be pointed out that destructive devices, as defined, do not include bullets that contain or carry explosive materials.


Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney


If you, or a loved one, have been arrested on suspicion of possessing and/or mailing explosives or other similar devices, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. The attorneys at our office have years of knowledge and experience in criminal law, both at the state and federal level, and we will do our best to ensure that you are provided with an effective and aggressive defense, so that you have the best possible chance at defending the charges asserted against you. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today for an initial consultation.




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