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California Arson Lawyer – Penal Code 451 PC

How Can an Arson Attorney Help Me?

If you have been charged with arson in California, call the experienced property crimes lawyers at My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882. We are passionate about defending your rights and protecting your freedom. Being charged with any crime is scary. My Rights Law is here to be in your corner in the courtroom and defend you against the accusations.

For a free consultation to discuss your case, call My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or contact us by filling out our secure web from. We look forward to working with you.

What Is Arson?

Arson is a crime in California under Penal Code Section 451. A person commits arson, according to 451 pc, when they “willfully and maliciously [set] a fire, [cause], or [aid] someone to burn a structure, forest land, or property.” [1]A person can also be charged with arson in California if they recklessly start a fire and the fire causes injury to another person or damages property. This offense is also known as reckless burning.

Because of the extreme heat, arid weather, and concerns about climate change, citizens and leaders in California are very zealous about protecting citizens, land, and property from avoidable fire damage. However, even with the growing effort to reduce the number of avoidable fire damage incident, the percentage of reported arson crimes have increased by 20% across the state over the last six years.

Some terms are not easily defined when looking at the law of arson. The following is a further breakdown of some of the terms included in the definition of arson.

What Does “Willfully” Mean?

To put it simply, ‘willfully’ refers to acting freely. A person willfully acts when they act without provocation or influence. A willful act is done intentionally. [2]

What Does “Maliciously” Mean?

A malicious act is an act that is done with the intent to harm. In an arson case, a person acts maliciously when they set fire to a structure, a person, or other property.

What Qualifies As A “Structure” In An Arson Case?

Under California law, the following qualifies as a structure under the arson offense: [3]

  • Power plants
  • Tunnels
  • Bridges
  • Buildings
  • Tents

What Is A “Forest Land”?

California Penal Code defines a ‘forest land’ includes any wooded, grassy, or brush-covered area.[4] Due to the dry climate and frequency of fires, California law is especially concerned with protecting forest land.

What Is Included In The Definition Of “Property”?

Under California law in the arson statute, “property” includes all other property not included in forest land. Thus, property includes real and personal property. Real property is land and houses or any property that cannot be moved. Personal property is any other property. Examples of personal property include vehicles and clothes.

What Are The Elements Of Arson?

To prove a case of arson, the state must prove all the following elements:

  1. That the defendant set fire or caused to be set fire to, burned or caused to be burned a structure, forest land, or property, and
  2. The defendant acted willfully and maliciously

What Are The Penalties For Arson In California?

Each crime has a penalty. The severity of punishment determines the punishment that the court imposes. Examples of the punishments that will be imposed include:

  • Up to three years in jail for malicious arson of personal property
  • Up to six years in jail for malicious arson of a structure or forest
  • Up to eight years in jail for malicious arson of an inhabited structure
  • Up to nine years in jail for arson causing grave bodily harm [5]

The severity of the punishment increases based on the number of people affected, the extent of the property damage done on the property, and other previous convictions that the defendant may have for arson or other offenses.

What Defenses Are Available For Arson?

Just as with any other crime, there are defenses to arson. Some defenses to arson include:

  • Being falsely accused. It is possible that the defendant can be charged with a crime that they did not commit. If you have been charged with arson but have not committed the act, being falsely accused is a defense to the charge.
  • The fire was a result of an equipment or wiring malfunction. Arson requires an intentional, willful, and malicious act.
  • The fire was caused by accident.

Forming a good defense is essential to having a favorable result after being charged with a crime. Call the attorneys at My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 to get the help you need. At My Rights Law, we are passionate about the representation that we provide to our clients. We are interested in learning your story and helping you get your life back on track.

When Should I Get An Arson Attorney Involved?

A lawyer should be involved in any case where your freedom is at stake. If you have been charged with a crime, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner gives you the best chance to get a favorable result.

You should have an attorney on your side if you are having a tough time understanding the terms of any plea agreement that you have been offered. You never want to sign an agreement without fully understanding it. Remember that you have the right to an attorney in a criminal matter, and you should exercise that right when charged with a crime.

You should contact an attorney when:

  • You are initially arrested for a criminal offense
  • Before you speak to a police officer
  • Before you speak to a prosecutor
  • Before you plead guilty to any criminal offense
  • If you do not understand your rights
  • At any point after being charged with a criminal offense

The arson lawyers at My Rights Law can help you during each of the above stages of a case. We help each of our clients get the best results in a criminal matter. If you have been charged in a criminal case, call the California arson lawyers at My Rights Legal Group to get the best results available in a criminal case. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or contact us by completing our secure web form to schedule a free consultation. You need an attorney to assist you, and we are here to help.

Contact My Rights Law Today

At My Rights Law, we have the expertise and knowledge required to help you understand your rights in a criminal case. We are passionate about defending your rights and protecting your freedom. We want to speak to you about your case and discuss your options. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form to schedule a free consultation.

FOOTNOTES
[1] California Penal Code 451 PC.
[2] CALCRIM No. 1515.
[3] CALCRIM No. 1515.
[4] CALCRIM No. 1515.
[5] California Penal Code Section 451d PC.

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