Arson Attorney in Los Angeles
California Penal Code 451 PC
Arson is a criminal offense that occurs when an individual "willfully and maliciously" sets fire to certain types of property or land. Arson charges may also be brought against anyone who causes such property or land to burn or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning. Under California Penal Code § 451, a person may face arson charges if they intentionally set fire to the following:
- Any structure (including buildings and homes)
- Forest land
- Any property not belonging to the person setting the fire
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Arson Penalties in California
Arson is considered a serious offense because it has the potential to endanger others. Penalties for arson depend on several factors, including: (1) the type of property or land involved, (2) whether another person was injured, and (3) whether the fire was set intentionally or recklessly. PC 451 details the following penalties for arson.
- Arson causing great bodily injury is a felony punishable by five, seven, or nine years in state prison.
- Arson of an inhabited structure or property is a felony punishable by three, five, or eight years in state prison.
- Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by two, four, or six years in state prison.
- Arson of another's property is a felony punishable by 16, two, or three years in state prison.
Individuals charged with arson may also face enhancements if they have been convicted of arson or an arson-related offense in the past, if emergency personnel were injured, if more than one victim was injured, if multiple structures were burned, and if a device was used to accelerate the fire or delay ignition.
PC 452 is an arson-related offense that involves unlawfully causing a fire by reckless behavior. To be convicted of this offense, prosecutors must prove that a structure, forest land, or property was burned because an individual acted recklessly. An example of reckless burning may include throwing a cigarette into dry brush or flammable materials. Unlawfully causing a fire is typically a misdemeanor unless someone was injured or the property burned was an inhabited structure or forest land.
Work With Award-Winning Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been charged for arson or unlawfully burning property, contacting an experienced lawyer should be your first priority. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are prepared to immediately review your case and explain how we can help.
To request a free legal consultation, call (800) 462-7160. We are available 24/7.