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Possession of Explosives
HS 12085 – 12401 Law & Defense

Information on the crime of possession of explosives is found at California Health and Safety code section 12085 and penal code 16510. Essentially, it is a crime to possess, make, or transport an explosive and some components related to explosives. Explosive basically means a bomb, but a more precise definition is found at penal code section 16510.

HS 12085: It is illegal to possess or transport any explosive in a manner prohibited by law or prohibited by any ordinance or regulations of a city, county, or harbor (Abbrev.).

PC 16510: Explosive means any substance, or combination of substances, the primary or common purpose of which is detonation or rapid combustion, and which is capable of a relatively instantaneous or rapid release of gas and heat (Abbrev.).

Note: Explosive includes: Dynamite, nitroglycerine, fulminate of mercury, black powder, smokeless powder, propellant explosives, detonating primers, blasting caps, blasting agents, and more (This list is not exclusive). Explosive does not include ammunition or small arms primers manufactured for use in shotguns, rifles, and pistols.


HS 12085 is classified as a wobbler, which means possession of explosives may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Jail: When HS 12085 is charged a a felony, the defendant may be incarcerated for up to three years in jail; when HS 12085 is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may be incarcerated for up to one year in jail.

Good Behavior Credits: If the defendant is sentence to jail (or work release) he or she may have that sentence reduced by up to fifty percent (50%) for good behavour (aka day for day credit).

Probation: A probation sentence is a period in which the defendant s monitored by a the court or by a probation officer instead of being sentence to actual jail. Probation sentences are allowed in HS 12085 cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether on a defendant is granted a probation sentence after a conviction for possession of an explosive depends on several factors , including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.

PC 1170(h): If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a a conviction for possession, making, or transporting a explosives, then the defendant may serve his or her incarceration in a local county jail (as opposed to a state prison), and that jail sentence may be split (served partially out of custody on work release), or or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a condition of his or he her out of custody sentence).

Three Strikes Law: HS 12085 is not a strike crime under California's Three Strikes Sentences Law.

Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor). This amount may be lowered or raised by a judge depending on the defendant's danger to the community, his or her risk of flight (not showing up to court as ordered), and other factors. 

In addition to the penalties listed above, if the defendant is convicted of HS 12085, other punishments can include fines and fees, loss of firearm rights, criminal protective orders, denial of immigration or professional licenses, civil lawsuits, and more.


Defenses to HS 12085


Common defenses to possessing, making, or transporting explosives include: insufficient evidence, mistake of facts (unaware that the material the defendant possessed was an explosive), fleeting possession (taking possession momentarily only for the safety of the defendant or others), insanity, entrapment, illegal search and seizure, and more.

Note: Exceptions apply for making, possessing, or transporting explosives by authorized agencies and personnel (.e. law enforcement , scientist and students with authorization, etc.).

If you have been arrested or charged with possession, making, or transporting an explosive, or HS 12085, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers have handled hundreds of felony and misdemeanor charges in the Inland Empire. Our team will patiently review your rights and defense options and we are open seven days a week to assist you. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Posses Explosives

Code: HS 12085 (CalCrim No. 2572 & 2573)

Wobbler: Yes. HS 12085 is a wobbler crime. This means that the crime may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Incarceration:Felony HS 12085 jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years. Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is allowed in felony and misdemeanor HS 12085 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. HS 12085 is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: HS 12085 is not a strike offense (CA Three Strikes law).

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.


Firearms: Felony HS 12085 convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.​

Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino)

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