Arson Crimes in California
Fire can be an incredibly destructive tool or weapon. Unfortunately, some individuals use fire as a way to defraud, damage, or hurt other people or entities. As such, any deliberate act to set fire to something is classified as arson. As an act, arson can occur in a multitude of ways. For example, arson can be the burning of your house for insurance money or the malicious burning of a forest. This article provides only a brief overview of the crime.
Proving an Arson Charge
California Penal Code 451(a) to (d) outlines each possible case of arson, as delineated by the law. The baseline definition of arson is that a person set fire to property, a structure, forest, or land – with malicious and willful intent. Malicious intent is really important. This means that accidentally and unintentionally setting your kitchen on fire does not equate to committing arson. Furthermore, arson can also include setting something on fire, which then results in great bodily injury for someone else.
Penalties for Committing Arson
Since arson can have life-changing consequences, its associated penalties are also just as consequential. At the minimum, an arson charge can be a misdemeanor, but as the number of previous arson charges or the severity of the crime increases, then so does the prison time for felony arson. For example, according to 451(a), arson leading to great bodily injury can require up to nine years in state prison. Other cases include burning another individual’s property, which will result in three years of prison time. Arson is a serious offense, and anyone charged with the crime should seek the counsel of experienced criminal lawyers.