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 skilled criminal defense attorney who understands and has experience in defending arson cases.
At the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg, we have the experience and resources needed to successfully defend your arson case. If you have been charged with the crime of arson, contact us for immediate help.
What Is the Punishment for Arson?
Arson penalties include both imprisonment and fines. The term of 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 is punished by state prison for 16 months, two, or three years
- 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
- A conviction on an arson charge requires registration as a convicted arson offender
Penalties can also be increased if the arson was premeditated, was for the purpose of injuring another, involved a burning acceleration device such as gasoline, or an ignition delay such as a timer or fuse. There are additional enhancements for significant financial damage or if more than one person was injured.
To be found 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
Frequently Asked Questions About Arson Charges
Q: What is included within “structure, forest land, or property” in arson case litigation?
A: 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.
Q: What does “willfully and maliciously” mean?
A: 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.
Q: Can I be accused of arson if I destroy my own property?
A: The crime of 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 or a loved one is accused of arson in LA, Los Angeles County or elsewhere in Southern California, do not hesitate to call Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 for a free and confidential consultation about your case or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.