Arson in California is a serious crime, and if you are convicted, the penalties will be significant. If you were charged with arson, understanding the basic elements of arson law can help you create the best possible defense in your case. Here’s what you need to know.
Simply put, arson in California occurs when a person maliciously, willfully, or recklessly burns a structure. This means that even if you accidentally started the fire, if your actions were found to be reckless, you could still be charged with arson. You can also be charged with arson for burning your own property.
How Your Punishment is Determined
Penalties for arson depend on three major things, including: the type of property that was set on fire, whether the fire was set recklessly or willfully, and if anyone was injured in the fire. If, for example, you were merely reckless and started a fire that didn’t injure anyone, your penalties would not be as harsh as they would be if you were found to have started a fire willfully and someone was critically injured or killed in the fire.
Arson is a Wobbler Crime
In California, some crimes are known as “wobbler crimes,” meaning that they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Arson that is found to be malicious or willful is always charged as a felony and can result in up to 9 years in a state prison if it does bodily harm to another person, and the fine can be as great as $10,000 in some cases.
Defenses Against Arson
There are a number of defenses that may prove to be successful against arson charges, depending on the unique facts of your case. For example, you may be able to argue mistaken identity — that it wasn’t actually you who set the fire, but someone else. False accusations, accidental fire, and insufficient evidence are all potential defense tactics that can be used to either dismiss or reduce the charges against you.
Contact Jennifer Mouzis Today for Comprehensive Legal Representation
When you need a defense attorney you can trust to aggressively advocate for your rights, contact Attorney Jennifer Mouzis. By exploring every available legal option, you can make informed decisions about your case. Call today for a one-on-one consultation to discuss your legal needs at (916) 822-8702. Your case will get the time and attention it needs to get results.