Consequences of Conviction for Arson Charge
Unlawfully Causing a Fire aka Reckless Arson (PC §452) may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case, the presence of certain circumstances, and your criminal record. Where the reckless fire results in great bodily injury to another, burns an inhabited structure or property, or burns a structure or forest land, you may be charged with either a felony (up to 6 years in state prison + fine) or a misdemeanor (up to 1 year in county jail + fine).
Violating PC §451 (Simple Arson) is always a felony, and depending on the circumstances, conviction may result in up to 9 years in state prison.
If convicted of a felony violation of either CA PC §451 or §452 AND the Prosecutor proves the existence of any of the following circumstances, the sentence is increased (up to an additional 5 years for violating §451; up to additional three years for §452):
1. You’ve been previously convicted for violating either PC §451 of §452;
2. A firefighter, police officer, or emergency responder suffered great bodily injury because of the fire;
3. More than one person suffered grave bodily injury during the fire;
4. The fire damaged multiple structures (and such damage was foreseeable);
5. An accelerant or timed device was used to cause the fire (CA PC §§ 451.1, 452.1).
Like most serious criminal matters your past record of convictions, even going back to juvenile records can become a factor in your new case. A knowledgeable San Diego Criminal Lawyer can help you present a strategy and defense to avoid the most serious consequences of your charges. Whether you feel that trial is necessary or simply want a quick resolution with little disruption to your life it is important to seek good counsel.
If convicted of Aggravated Arson (PC §451.5), you face 10 years to life in state prison AND won’t be eligible for parole until 10 years after sentencing.
? Additionally, CA PC §457.1 requires registration as a convicted arsonist if convicted pursuant to Penal Code §§ 451& 451.5 (Simple and Aggravated Arsons), §453 (Possession of an Incendiary Device), and attempted Arson (not reckless).Defenses:
There are several defense that are effective against a charge of Arson or Unlawfully Causing a Fire, including:
• You started the fire inadvertently or innocently ? Examples of this include accidentally leaving a clothing iron plugged in, or a candle you lit outside popped and an ember lit some brush.
• You burned your own property ? There are many situations in which burning your own property is legal. But where doing so causes the fire to burn structures (even your own), another’s property, or forest land, or if you are doing so to fraudulently obtain an insurance payout, this defense might not be available.
• Inaccurate Eyewitness ID ? There are many circumstances that affect the credibility and accuracy of eyewitness identifications – a skillful attorney will work diligently to pursue a
• False Accusations ? Examples include situations like another person purposely or even mistakenly setting a fire and subsequently accusing you as a cover-up, or where someone thought you looked like a composite shown on television and called you in to claim a money award.
If you are charged with Arson, talk to a Criminal Attorney in San Diego knowledgeable in arson to represent you efficiently and effectively.