California Penal Code 18710 PC makes it illegal to possess any destructive device. These include grenades, explosive missiles, bombs, projectiles containing any kind of explosive material and certain rockets and rocket-type projectiles. Under PC 18710, the purpose of possession is irrelevant, and it’s possible to be charged with a crime, even if the suspect had no intention of using it in any way.
Law enforcement officers with the LAPD and FBI recently served a search warrant at an apartment in the Pico-Robertson area to look for signs of dangerous materials. The investigators brought with them members of the bomb squad, as well as the hazmat team. Authorities received a tip about hazardous materials being sent through the mail, and investigators were there to search for and seize any illegal contraband.
During the search, investigators were unable to locate any hazardous materials or contraband, but did arrest three people on suspicion of possession of an explosive device. Terror investigators at the scene said there was no indication that there was any link to terrorist activities. They did not specify which explosive device was in the possession of the suspects.
In order to be charged with violating PC 18710, an individual must know that they possess the device, and know that it was a destructive device. Suppose an individual inherits a home from a recently deceased relative who was in the military and fought in the Vietnam War. In the attic was a live, unexploded tank shell that the relative took home as a trophy. If, for whatever reason, the shell was discovered by law enforcement and the recent inheritor of the home had no idea it was there, then they would likely not be charged for violating PC 18710. Additionally, if the inheritor of the property did know it was there, but didn’t know what it was or didn’t know that it was live, then it’s not likely they would be charged.
Penal Code 18710 PC is a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Felony charges carry the possible penalties of 16 months to 3 years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Interestingly, judges may not sentence those convicted under PC 18710 to probation instead of jail or prison. Thus, individuals convicted of this crime face mandatory jail time.