Fires can cause widespread damage and harm. Due to their destructive nature, it is illegal to set fire to buildings, property, or forest land in California. Arson, or intentionally starting fires, is a very serious offense that often carries felony charges and lengthy prison sentences.
Burga Law Firm has been very successful in obtaining reductions and dismissals of arson charges. We've helped many of our clients avoid serious consequences such as prison terms, fines, and strikes on criminal records.
What Happens at My Court Date?
During your first court date, or your arraignment, the judge will read you the charges filed against you. In California, arson falls into two categories:
Burga Law Firm PC will represent you and appear at all of your hearings. If you enter a not guilty plea, the judge will order you to return for a pre-trial or case readiness. Since arson crimes are considered a serious offense, trials are often a lengthy affair. Investigators will begin searching for evidence and witnesses to connect you to the crime.
What are Common Defenses for Arson?
In arson cases, prosecutors have the burden of proof. They must prove that you started the fire and did so intentionally. Burga Law Firm PC has been successful in defending arson cases using the following defenses:
- False accusation or mistaken identity
- Insufficient evidence
- Lack of intent
What are the Penalties for an Arson Conviction?
Arson convictions include significant punishments in California. Penal Code 451 penalizes those who set or intend to set a fire willingly, maliciously, deliberately, or with premeditation. Malicious arson is a felony punishable by imprisonment of:
- Two, four, or six years if the fire burns forest land or a structure.
- Sixteen months, two, or three years if the fire burns property.
- Five, seven, or nine years if the fire causes significant bodily injury.
- Three, five, or eight years if the fire causes an inhabited structure or property to burn.
Penal Code 452 penalizes those who knowingly and recklessly burned or set fire to a property, structure, or forest land. Reckless burning is a misdemeanor but may be prosecuted as a felony if it occurs in a structure or forest land or causes great bodily injury. Felony convictions can result in prison sentences between 16 months and six years.