Are fireworks legal in New York?

Are fireworks legal in New York?

As the Fourth of July draws ever closer, more New Yorkers are eagerly making plans for traditional holiday pastimes: getting together with family and friends, hosting lively backyard barbecues and, above all, lighting fireworks. One might argue that no celebration of the Fourth is complete without the latter.

When it comes to private fireworks shows, New York law imposes firm restrictions. In 2014, Governor Cuomo approved the use and sale of sparkling fireworks during specific time periods, namely from June 1 to July 5 for the Fourth celebrations and December 26 to January 2 for New Year’s Eve, but only in counties where local laws permitted them. This concession was, and still is, intended to stop people from buying fireworks in Pennsylvania and other neighboring states.

By definition, “sparkling” fireworks are those that produce a shower of sparks as their primary pyrotechnic effect and do not explode, fire projectiles or inserts, or rise into the sky. They are legal for adults to purchase and use, but it remains a crime to provide one to a minor, which means that theoretically a parent could be arrested for handing off a sparkler to their child.

New York firecrackers offenses

New York law distinguishes between “fireworks” and “dangerous fireworks”. The former includes sparklers, firecrackers, and related items. The latter describes fireworks capable of causing significant physical injury and includes skyrockets, torpedoes, roman candles, and firecrackers that contain more than 50 mgs of any explosive substance.

Crimes associated with possessing or selling fireworks include:

  • Simple possession: If you possess less than $50 worth of any kind of firework, then you can be charged with a violation and pay a fine or spend up to 15 days in jail (or both). This can even apply to sparklers in counties that don’t permit them or outside of the legally approved time frames.
  • Offering for sale or furnishing: If you sell or even provide fireworks to others, then you may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which can send you to jail for up to 90 days and/or result in a fine. The presumption is that if you possess more than $50 worth of either fireworks or dangerous fireworks, then your intention is to sell them.
  • Offering for sale or furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor: If you sell or give dangerous fireworks to a minor, then it is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

NYPL 270, which covers fireworks offenses, also indicates that if you are arrested for either of the “offering” offenses listed above and it is your second arrest for the same crime within five years, then the charge could be upped to a Class E felony.

The different classifications and the fact that local laws regulate their sale and use make New York fireworks laws confusing for many people, especially visitors from out of state. If you have been charged with illegal use of any type of firework, then contact a New York criminal defense attorney who can advocate for you and help you obtain the best outcome for your case. Julie Rendelman is a New York City criminal defense attorney who represents clients in firecracker offenses and their related crimes. Ms. Rendelman has more than 20 years of legal experience and can be reached at 212-951-1232 for a free consultation. Visit to learn more.