Arson Defense in Los Angeles
An arson charge is very serious. It is a felony and a strike under California’s three strikes law. It is imperative that your attorney has a thorough knowledge of the investigative methods used in arson cases. Equally important in arson cases is an understanding of the psychology and life circumstances of the accused.
The scientific standards for proving arson are evolving, highly technical, and under great scrutiny by the scientific community and the courts. It is imperative that you retain a criminal defense attorney who has experience and understanding in defending arson cases. The Law Offices of Gunsberg has the experience and resources needed to defend an arson case.
What is the penalty for Arson?
Arson penalties include both imprisonment and fines. Imprisonment for arson can be increased if a person is injured, if the structure burnt is inhabited, or if there was a previous conviction for arson:
• Arson that causes great bodily injury to another is punished by state prison for five, seven, or nine years.
• Arson that causes an inhabited structure or property to burn is punished by state prison for three, five, or eight years,
• Arson of a structure or forest is punished by state prison for two, four, or six years.
• Otherwise, arson is punished by state prison for 16 months, two, or three years.
• Registration as a convicted arson offender.
Penalties can also be increased if the arson was premeditated, was for the purpose of injuring another, used a burning acceleration device such as gasoline, or an ignition delay such as a timer or fuse. There are additional enhancement for significant financial damage or if more than one person was injured.
To be guilty of arson the prosecution must prove:
• A person set fire, burned, or caused to be burned, a structure, forest land, or property
• The fire was set willfully and maliciously AND
• The fire caused the structure, land, or property to burn, or the caused great bodily injury to another person.
What is included within “structure, forest land, or property”?
Any residential or commercial building, a public tent, bridges and tunnels building, or other personal property such as motor vehicles or someone’s personal belongings.
What does Willfully and Maliciously mean?
Essentially this means a person acted wrongfully. To be wrongful a person either intends to cause the harm or is unjustifiably reckless in causing the harm. To be reckless a person must be aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
Can I be accused of arson if I destroy my own property?
Arson does not include burning your own property unless your intent was to defraud someone (e.g. insurance fraud) or there was an injury to another person or their property.
Arson is serious. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation about you or your loved one’s arson case. Call 310-210-0744