Have You Been Accused Of Arson?
State laws makes it a felony to willfully and maliciously set fire to or burn any structure, forest land, or other property. It can be a misdemeanor or felony when someone causes a fire due to their reckless behavior. The charge of arson, or unlawfully causing a fire, can apply to any damage to a structure, forest land, or other property caused by fire, no matter how slight that damage is.
Arson is prosecuted based upon the severity of the offense and the intent of the defendant. The penalties can range from a fine all the way to years in prison if the arson caused the death of another.
Arson laws can be complex and intimidating. You need to have experienced representation to defend your rights and to help you get your life back. Crosland, Rapaport & Graham vigorously defends you in your great time of need.
For a confidential consultation about Arson charges, contact Crosland, Rapaport & Graham at
Our experienced attorneys understand the requisite elements of the crime and are able to investigate whether the prosecution has the evidence that all those elements were satisfied. If the elements are not satisfied, we can work to get the charges dismissed. If the charges stand up to scrutiny, we can work for a conviction on a lesser offense or to mitigate the sentence.
Simple arson, which is an act of arson that did not cause the burning of an inhabited structure and/or did not cause great bodily injury to another person, is a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison for two, four, or six years if the arson was of a structure or forest land and for 16 months, two, or three years if the arson was of any other property7. Penal Code section 450 defines a “structure” as “any building, or commercial or public tent,” “forest land” as ” any brush covered land, cut-over land, forest, grasslands, or woods” and “property” as any real or personal property that is not a structure or forest land. Under this section, for example, a house would be a “structure;” a car would be “property.”
Arson Of An Inhabited Structure
If the arson caused the burning of an inhabited structure, the penalty is more severe. This felony conviction is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for years. A structure is considered inhabited if someone lives there. The person or persons who live in the structure do not need to be present at the time of the arson for this condition to be met.
Arson Causing Great Bodily Injury
Arson that causes great bodily injury to another person is a serious felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison. Great bodily injury is an injury that is more than minor or moderate; it must be a significant or substantial physical injury. There is a fine line between an injury that is significant or substantial and one that is moderate and it is up to the judge or jury to make that determination.
Under State law, arson charges can be enhanced by a number of conditions. These conditions constitute “aggravated arson” and if convicted on any of these aggravated conditions, a defendant is not eligible for a grant of probation. When a charge is enhanced, the defendant charged faces punishment in addition to the penalties imposed for the crime. If a person charged with arson has a previous felony arson conviction, the penalty may be enhanced by additional years of imprisonment. This same enhancement can also be imposed if the arson caused great bodily injury to a first responder, or if the arson caused great bodily injury to more than one person or damaged multiple structures. The same enhancement will apply to a person who is charged with using an accelerant or time delay device to start the fire.
It is also “aggravated arson” when the defendant is accused of an arson specifically set with the intention to injure others or cause damage likely to injure others when the defendant has been previously convicted of arson. The penalties under either of these conditions is imprisonment in state prison.