Any individual who burns, causes to be burned, sets fire to or aids in the burning of any property, structure, or forest land and who does so maliciously or willfully may be charged with arson, a criminal offense that is punished harshly in the state of California. Generally speaking, arson is the act of intentionally setting fire to real property, whether brush, wild lands, or a man-made structure or building whether a home or commercial building. At The Justice Firm, we know that in a state where it's warm and the Santa Ana winds blow on a beautiful day, innocent people may be accused of a crime they did not commit. California is rife with fire hazards, adding to the likelihood you could be falsely accused of a crime given the right set of circumstances.
Accidents do happen, and fires often begin unintentionally. Seasonal wildfire workers also purposely set fires when financially burdened. Unfortunately, some people actually commit arson for the adrenalin rush, or to see the havoc they have wreaked on the local news, never giving much thought to the real cost in terms of lives and property. Our Los Angeles arson defense lawyers know how critical it is to consult with a capable attorney when potentially facing charges of arson.Aggravated Arson in California
There are three elements which may result in an individual being charged with aggravated arson. These elements include:
- The burning of a structure or property was planned in advance, and done intentionally or deliberately
- Someone suffers injuries and/or a structure or area is burned which will likely result in injuries
- The individual accused either has been convicted within the past 10 years for arson, set a fire resulting in damages exceeding $5,650,000, or sets a fire which results in damage to five or more dwellings which are inhabited, such as a home
Sentencing and penalties for individuals convicted of arson in the state vary widely, depending on a number of factors including whether anyone was injured because of the fire, the nature of the property burned, the defendant's criminal history, and whether the individual is convicted of malicious or reckless arson.
Arson of property is a felony offense which if convicted will leave you facing 16 months, or two or three years in prison.
Arson of forest land or arson of a structure will leave those convicted facing punishment which includes two, four, or six years in California state prison.
Arson resulting in great bodily injury to another individual will leave those convicted facing five, seven, or nine years in prison.
It is important to note that you may be charged with reckless arson/reckless burning under Penal Codes 451 or 452, depending on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Reckless arson is a bit different in that you caused a fire out of recklessness, not out of intent or purposefully. Considered a "wobbler" in California, if charged as a misdemeanor and convicted you will face up to one year in county jail and/or fines of up to $1,000. If charged as a felony and convicted, the penalties include 16 months to 3 or 9 years in prison (depending on whether you were convicted of arson or attempted arson), fines of up to $10,000. If it is proven by the prosecutor that you intentionally set fire to a structure or property for your own financial gain, you may face a fine of double the amount of the actual or anticipated gain or $50,000.Call Our Los Angeles Arson Defense Firm Today
At The Justice Firm, we know that securing the legal guidance and support of a knowledgeable, skilled, and aggressive criminal defense attorney early on is key to a successful outcome in your arson case. We are dedicated to educating you regarding your options, keeping you informed throughout the legal process, and most important of all, obtaining outstanding results. Our firm is ready to fight on your behalf in order to protect you from the harsh criminal penalties of a conviction. Call us immediately at 310-914-2444 for a free consultation regarding your case.