You can get legal assistance if you want to learn more about malicious arson here in Los Angeles. Our team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you dig deeper into the facts about this criminal charge. Contact us now by calling (310) 997-4688.
How the State of California Defines Malicious Arson
The state of California provides a specific definition for the crime of malicious arson through Penal Code §451. According to PC 451, individuals can face a charge for malicious arson if they start a fire:
- On a property
- In a structure
- On forest land
However, malicious arson charges should only apply if someone acts in a way that is malicious. Additionally, individuals have to act willfully in order to face a conviction for malicious arson. The court uses a specific meaning for “malicious” actions.
Accidentally starting a fire does not count as malicious behavior in the state of California. Neither does starting a fire due to a mental condition, such as pyromania. You can learn more about malicious activity with a property crime lawyer in Los Angeles.
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Punishment for Malicious Arson in California
Malicious arson is a felony offense in the state of California. There are a number of serious penalties associated with a PC 451 conviction. Individuals can face:
- Up to three years in prison for arson involving personal property
- Up to six years in prison for arson involving forest land or structures
- Up to eight years in prison for arson involving an inhabited structure
- Up to nine years in prison for arson involving a great bodily injury
Additionally, because malicious arson is a felony offense, it can impact your right to keep and own firearms in Los Angeles. Felons in California are not allowed to purchase or own guns. Find out more about these repercussions by calling (310) 997-4688 to speak with the Simmrin Law Group.
Other Kinds of Arson in Los Angeles
Malicious arson is only one kind of arson in the state of California. The state also prosecutes individuals for “reckless burning.” Reckless burning is a less serious charge to handle some kinds of arson in our area.
Individuals can face charges for reckless burning if they unlawfully set fire to a structure, forest, or property. Penal Code § 452 deals with reckless burning charges. Individuals face these charges if they act in a way that is reckless, but not malicious.
Reckless burning is a “wobbler” in California. This means individuals can face misdemeanor or felony charges for a conviction.
Penalties for Reckless Burning in California
As we mentioned, reckless burning is a wobbler in the state of California. Individuals charged with a wobbler are accused of either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors and felonies have different penalties in Los Angeles.
Misdemeanor Penalties for Reckless Burning
Individuals who face misdemeanor reckless burning charges can end up sentenced to:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to six months
Felony Penalties for Reckless Burning
Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor offenses. Individuals convicted of a felony under PC 452 can end up facing fines and up to six years in prison.
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Defenses for Malicious Arson Charges in California
After reviewing the facts about a malicious arson charge, we can consider some defenses that work to address these allegations. An arson lawyer in Los Angeles can help you build a defense. Our team can work to show that:
- You did not willfully commit arson
- You did not act maliciously when starting a fire
- You started a fire by accident
Our team focuses on getting your charges reduced or even dismissed. This can allow you to stay out of court after you are accused of arson. However, we are also prepared to defend you if your case goes to court.
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If You’re Facing a Malicious Arson Charge in California, We Can Help
The Simmrin Law Group can help if you want to know what malicious arson charges are in California. You can easily contact our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles to better understand these accusations. Just call (310) 997-4688 or fill out our online contact form. Take control of your future if you are dealing with an arson charge with a free consultation.