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California Prevention of Terrorism Act

The California STEP act was enacted in 1988 to protect citizens from gang violence

By Chris Micheli, August 18, 2022 8:14 pm

California has numerous formal acts in statute. Penal Code Part 4, Title 1, Chapter 3, Article 4.6 provides the Hertzberg-Alarcon California Prevention of Terrorism Act, which is contained in Sections 11415 to 11419. Chapter 4.6 was added in 1999 by Chapter 563. Section 11415 names the act.

Section 11416 provides that the Legislature finds and declares that the threat of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, including, but not limited to, chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological agents, is a significant public safety concern. The Legislature also recognizes that terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction could result in an intentional disaster placing residents of California in great peril.

In addition, the Legislature finds it necessary to sanction the possession, manufacture, use, or threatened use of chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological weapons, as well as the intentional use or threatened use of industrial or commercial chemicals as weapons against persons or animals.

Section 11417 provides definitions for the following terms: “weapon of mass destruction”; “chemical warfare agents”; “weaponized biological or biologic warfare agents”; “nuclear or radiological agents”; “vector”; “weaponization”; and, “used as a destructive weapon.”

The intentional release of a dangerous chemical or hazardous material generally utilized in an industrial or commercial process is considered use of a weapon of mass destruction when a person knowingly utilizes those agents with the intent to cause harm and the use places persons or animals at risk of serious injury, illness, or death, or endangers the environment.

The lawful use of chemicals for legitimate mineral extraction, industrial, agricultural, or commercial purposes is not proscribed by this article. No university, research institution, private company, individual, or hospital engaged in scientific or public health research and, as required, registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is subject to this article.

Section 11418 provides that any person, without lawful authority, who possesses, develops, manufactures, produces, transfers, acquires, or retains any weapon of mass destruction, must be punished by imprisonment for 4, 8, or 12 years.

Any person who uses or directly employs against another person a weapon of mass destruction in a form that may cause widespread, disabling illness or injury in human beings must be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life. State imprisonment for life also includes those persons who:

  • Use or directly employ against another person a weapon of mass destruction in a form that may cause widespread great bodily injury or death and causes the death of any human being.
  • Use a weapon of mass destruction in a form that may cause widespread damage to or disruption of the food supply or “source of drinking water.”
  • Use maliciously against animals, crops, or seed and seed stock, a weapon of mass destruction in a form that may cause widespread damage to or substantial diminution in the value of stock animals or crops, including seeds used for crops or product of the crops.
  • Use a weapon of mass destruction in a form that may cause widespread and significant damage to public natural resources, including coastal waterways and beaches, public parkland, surface waters, ground water, and wildlife.

Section 11418.1 provides that any person who gives, mails, sends, or causes to be sent any false or facsimile of a weapon of mass destruction to another person, or places, causes to be placed, or possesses any false or facsimile of a weapon of mass destruction, with the intent to cause another person to fear for his or her own safety, or for the personal safety of others, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

If the person’s conduct causes another person to be placed in sustained fear, the person must be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or in the state prison and by a fine of not more than $250,000.

Section 11418.5 specifies that any person who knowingly threatens to use a weapon of mass destruction, with the statement made by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety, or for his or her immediate family’s safety must be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year or in the state prison and by a fine of not more than $250,000.

Section 11419 provides that any person or entity possessing any of the restricted biological agents must be punished by imprisonment and by a fine of not more than $250,000. The term “restricted biological agents” is defined.

This section does not apply to any physician, veterinarian, pharmacist, or licensed medical practitioner authorized to dispense a prescription, or universities, research institutions, or pharmaceutical corporations, or any person possessing the agents pursuant to a lawful prescription under federal law.

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3 thoughts on “California Prevention of Terrorism Act

  1. “Any person who uses or directly employs against another person a weapon of mass destruction in a form that may cause widespread, disabling illness or injury in human beings must be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life.”

    Does this mean that ALL California legislators and politicians who MANDATED clot-shots must be imprisoned for life???

    Asking for a friend…. (we could only HOPE…. bye-bye-Gavvie – bend your knees when you pick up the soap in the prison showers…)

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