California arson cases are among the most complex and challenging that are taken on by criminal defense firms. Successful management of these cases depends upon thorough investigation, tenacity and an enormous amount of legal skill. Defendants need an experienced, aggressive Los Angeles arson attorney to help them through the process. If you are being investigated for arson or have already been charged with arson in California, then call us today. The sooner you hire us to defend your rights, the sooner this ordeal can be put to an end.
How Is Arson Defined in California?
California law divides arson into two major categories. The first of these is straightforward arson, which involves the willful and malicious setting of a fire. The second category is known as reckless arson, sometimes called reckless burning. Dividing the main two categories is the defendant’s state of mind. In the first category, the person charged with arson actually intended to start a fire. In the second, the fire may have been purely an accident caused by the reckless or negligent behavior of an individual.
Arson may involve the burning of any kind of structure, forest land or other miscellaneous property. Frequently, the structure, land or property involved in the fire does not belong to the person accused of burning it. However, it is possible for a person to be accused of committing arson on their own land or property. This may be the case if a home or other structure is involved or if law enforcement believes that the fire was started for fraudulent purposes, such as collecting on an insurance policy. If you have been accused of this crime, then you need a skilled, capable Los Angeles arson attorney working on your defense.
Who Can Be Accused of Arson in Los Angeles?
If police investigators believe that an individual is guilty of setting a fire, whether the blaze was intentional or not, then that person may be charged with arson. However, the state regards this crime as a particularly serious one. This means they have the power to charge other people with arson, even if those people did not take part in the actual burning. Under California law, any person who provides assistance or equipment to the person who set the fire may be charged with arson. Similarly, someone who provides counsel or simply knows about the plans for an arson attack may also be charged. This means that even if you had no direct involvement in the fire you could be facing serious criminal consequences. It’s in your best interests to take proactive steps to protect your rights by contacting a Los Angeles arson lawyer.
Consequences of an Arson Conviction in Los Angeles
Anyone who is convicted of being involved in arson in California is liable to be facing serious jail time as well as substantial fines. California courts look at several elements when determining what consequences should be levied on those who are convicted of arson. Some of these elements include the type of property that was burned, whether or not anyone was injured or killed in the blaze and whether the fire was set willfully or recklessly.
Accordingly, someone accused of reckless burning may only be charged at the misdemeanor level. If it is found that the crime involved the destruction of forest land or a structure or if the blaze caused bodily injury to anyone, then it’s possible for the misdemeanor to be turned into a felony. On the other hand, anyone who willfully and maliciously sets a fire will always be charged at the felony level. Additional charges may be brought if someone is killed in the fire. Usually, this means a charge of felony murder will be added to felony arson.
Misdemeanor reckless arson charges may result in a sentence of up to six months in county jail. If the prosecutor decides to charge reckless arson as a felony, then the punishment may be 16 months, two years or three years in state prison. Burning of structures or property that is inhabited may mean longer sentences of up to four years while a fire that causes bodily injuries may bring a sentence of as much as six years.
Someone found guilty of malicious arson may be looking at similar 16 month, two year or three year sentences for the destruction of personal property. Arson that destroys structures or forest lands may mean a prison sentence of as much as six years. Stiffer penalties of up to eight or nine years may be brought against those who are convicted of arson involving inhabited structures or great bodily harm to others. Anyone convicted of malicious arson may be responsible for up to $10,000 in fines. Additional fines may be levied if the arson was in conjunction with an act of fraud.
Experienced Los Angeles Arson Attorneys
Defending against arson charges in California is a delicate and complex task. It requires finely-honed investigative skills and an unusual degree of legal knowledge. Considering the seriousness of the penalties for an arson conviction, it is essential to hire a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles arson lawyer.
Regardless of the degree to which you may or may not have been involved in an act of arson, you need competent legal counsel. Every day matters when you are facing arson charges in California. Contact us today to get the criminal defense advice you need.
When a person is charged with arson, this allegation is typically quite alarming. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, arson is either charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony arson conviction can lead to serious financial and personal consequences. After all, any type of felony conviction can cause interruption in any person’s professional life. Upon conviction, licensed professionals can lose the right to work in their field in California. Young students may face particularly grim prospects if they are convicted of arson. Colleges may ask students to leave if they are convicted of serious felonies.
Los Angeles arson charges are investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The state can’t take arson charges lightly because arson-related fires have cost many lives in this state over the years. Additionally, arson has caused millions of dollars in property damage. Arson investigations are so vigorous that it is possible for the authorities to mistakenly target innocent people. In their vigilant quest for justice, dogged investigators and prosecutors can miss signs of innocence that might seem obvious to others. This is why it is so important for people to secure experienced legal representatives when faced with charges of this nature. In California, arson against property is a felony that is punishable by anywhere from 16 months to three years in prison. If convicted of arson of forested land or arson of a structure, a convicted defendant may face up to six years in a California prison. The most serious type of arson is arson that leads to severe bodily injury to another human being. In these cases, convicted people can receive prison sentences of up to nine years.
Aggravated arson is a serious offence that can lead to very serious fines and jail sentences. This type of arson occurs when the offender planned the burning in advance with full deliberation and malicious intent. Whether a burning is intentional or not, it is considered aggravated if a person is injured by the fire. If the defendant has already received an arson conviction in the past 10 years, the new case again becomes an aggravated arson case. Finally, California law considers an arson fire to be aggravated arson if the fire damages five or more homes.
A lot of subjective factors go into determining whether an accident amounts to arson or reckless burning. Although prosecutors can charge reckless burning as a felony, this crime is also charged as a misdemeanor with a maximal sentence of six months in jail. Because there are so many complicated legal issues involved in any arson case, it is sensible to only hire experienced legal professionals to fight any such charge. The earlier one secures a criminal defense attorney, the better one’s chances of receiving an acquittal or a “not guilty” verdict. Our law firm will go to great lengths to ensure that each and every client receives the best outcomes from court appearances. Because we truly care about each and every client, we always work long and hard on Los Angeles arson cases.
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