Arson is no joke at any time. It is a serious criminal offense in California, and for good reason. There is a lot of potential harm that can be done when a person commits arson. Not only is there the property damage which can be enormous, but you have the added risk of someone getting physically harmed as well. It is not a thing that people should have to worry about, but there are always going to be criminals out there who just make life a little bit harder for the rest of us.
Arson In California And “Strikes”
California has a “strikes” system of justice for certain offenses. This is the concept of a person receiving “strikes” for different criminal offenses. If they continue to offend and get three (or more) strikes, then they could be serving a very long prison sentence even for a crime that would normally not warrant such a lengthy stay.
All forms of arson go against a person’s record as strikes. It is important to understand this because this crime may enhance the sentencing for any other violations of the law that a person has had in the past or does have in the future.
Definition Of Arson
Arson is when someone willfully and maliciously sets fire to property, even property that they personally own. There are many different crimes that fall under this umbrella. A person might intentionally set fire to their own property in an attempt to collect insurance money. That is also a crime.
Whenever there is a blaze that is put out, special investigators are brought in to determine if the fire was accidental or intentional. That is important because an intentional fire may indeed be a sign that someone was trying to commit the crime of arson. That becomes a very serious problem that could potentially lead to criminal charges being brought. It is wise to understand that special investigators will always be brought in after a fire is put out. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to intentionally set a fire and get away with it.
The Investigation Process
Do not think for a second that just because you managed to slip by for a while with an intentionally set blaze that you are somehow out of the woods. It is actually just the opposite in many cases. As it turns out, many people have to wait for a very long time before they get results back from an investigation into an arson.
The special investigatory teams take months or even years to figure out what is going on with each case that they study. They will use special chemicals and any other tools at their disposal to figure out if the fire was set on purpose, how it spread, and what other causes may have been at play that could have caused the fire.
Hiring An Attorney To Defend Yourself
Any time you or a loved one are charged with arson, it is time to hire a great attorney. You need someone who will stand in your corner and defend you. Remember, it is possible that you have not done anything wrong at all. You might just need a good defense attorney to help show others that this is the case.
An experienced attorney is the best choice if you find yourself in this sticky situation. He or she can fetch any evidence that they feel that they need to prove your innocence. There is probably a mountain of evidence out there with this kind of investigation. The only thing is, you need to know where to look for it at. You might find some of it, but you might also need to have an attorney who can get in there and figure out the rest of the story for you.
Different Types Of Arson With Different Penalties
There are obviously different forms of arson as already mentioned. They also carry with them different levels of penalty. Take a look at some of the forms below:
Penal Code Section 451(a)- Arson that causes great bodily harm or death. The penalty is up to nine years in prison.
Penal Code Section 451(b)- Arson of an inhabited structure (such as an individual’s home). This comes with a penalty of up to eight years in prison.
Penal Code Section 451(c)- Arson to an uninhabited structure or a forest. This is punishable by up to six years in prison.
Penal Code Section 451(d)- Arson to one’s own property. This is punishable by up to three years in prison.
This is all so very important in the law. It lays out different ways in which one may commit arson and the various penalties for having done so.