There are endless ways people start intentional and accidental fires. Automobile accidents, playing with matches, handling fireworks without exercising safety precautions, discarding cigarettes, overloading electrical outlets, oven fires, and furnace fires are just some examples.
What are Arson Charges?
Arson is the deliberate act of setting a fire to property to cause damage or destruction of that property. In California, the district attorney will charge an individual with arson by considering the intent of the accused person and whether the harm caused by the fire was to people, property, or both. An arson charge can be basic or aggravated. The harm can be to any property, structure, or forest land. The main distinction between the two charges is the intent of the accused person.
Basic arson requires the accused person to have acted willfully and maliciously, set fire or burned or caused to be burned, any structure, forest land, or property. Aggravated arson requires the same actions by the accused person but also requires:
- The specific intent to cause the injury or property damage
- The accused had a prior conviction of arson within the past 10 years
- The accused caused property damage or losses in excess of 6.5 million dollars.
What are Criminal Penalties for Arson Charges?
Arson is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor is subject to up to a year in jail; while a felony is subject to over a year in jail. Below is a list of the most serious criminal penalties for arson charges. For information about your arson charge, contact the San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers.
- Aggravated arson: Punishable by up to life in prison.
- Arson causing injury to people called arson causing great bodily injury: Punishable by up to nine years in prison.
- Arson causing injury to inhabited structures or properties: punishable by up to eight years in prison.
- Arson causing damage to structures or forest land: punishable by up to six years in prison.
- Arson of property and attempted: punishable by up to three years in prison.
What are Civil Penalties for Shoplifting Charges?
People convicted of an arson crime can also face up to $50,000 in fines and be required to pay restitution to the owner of the damaged property.
Charged Under California Arson Laws? Hire a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
California offers pretrial diversion programs for first-time offenders as an alternative to prosecution. Eligibility depends on age and prior criminal record. Criminal charges under the pretrial diversion program are dismissed if the person successfully completes court mandated programs and conditions within a specified time frame. If you or a loved one is facing felony or misdemeanor arson charges, seek legal advice and legal representation from an experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney. Continue reading