Los Angeles Arson Attorney
At Spolin Law P.C., our Los Angeles arson attorneys are well-versed in arson cases and can aggressively represent you against any of the arson-related offenses. Facing arson charges can be intimidating and thinking about the potential consequences of a conviction can be downright scary. Our criminal defense team is here to guide you through the legal system with respect and compassion.
If the police believe you intentionally or recklessly set fire to, burned down, or tried to set fire to any property, building, or piece of land, then it is likely you will be charged with an arson offense. Under California law, there are a number of crimes you may be charged with depending on the allegations against you and the evidence the prosecution has obtained.
At Spolin Law P.C., our Los Angeles arson defense lawyers will conduct an independent investigation into your case in order to gain and analyze every piece of evidence available. We will use what we learn to build you a strong criminal defense available under the California state and federal law.
To learn more about how we can help, call us at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a time to speak with a Los Angeles arson defense lawyer.
Arson and Potential Penalties (Cal. Penal Code §451)
You may be charged with arson if you willfully and maliciously set fire to or burn, or help in the burning of any structure, forest land, or property. You will not be charged with a crime for burning your own property unless you did so with the intent to defraud or the fire injured another person or another individual’s property. A skilled Los Angeles arson attorney can evaluate your situation and help you understand your legal options.
A “structure” means any building, commercial or public tent, bridge, tunnel, or power plant. “Forest land” does not have to be a traditional forest, instead it may be any brush covered or cut-over land. Additionally, “property” includes all real and personal property other than a structure or forest land, which could include vehicles, clothing, and furniture.
The charge and potential penalty for arson depends on the facts of the offense, including the result of the fire.
- Arson of Property – Felony, punishable by up to three years in prison
- Arson of a Structure or Forest Land – Felony, punishable by up to six years in prison
- Arson of an Inhabited Structure or Property – Felony, punishable by up to eight years in prison
- Arson that caused Great Bodily Injury – Felony, punishable by up to nine years in prison
Under Cal. Penal Code §451.1, you face a three- to five-year sentence enhancement if:
- You have a previous arson conviction;
- A firefighter or other emergency personnel suffered great bodily injury as a result of the fire;
- You caused great bodily injury to more than one victim;
- You caused multiple structures to burn; or
- You used a device designed to accelerate the fire or delay ignition.
Aggravated Arson and Potential Penalties (Cal. Penal Code §451.5)
You may be charged with aggravated arson if you willfully, maliciously, deliberately, with premeditation, and with the intent to cause injury to one or more individuals or damage to property, under circumstances likely to produce injury or damage, set fire to or burn any residence, structure, forest lane, or property and one of the following factors existed:
- You have a previous arson conviction in the past 10 years;
- The fire caused damage in excess of $7 million, including the cost of fire suppression;
- The fire caused destroyed or caused damage to at least five structures.
Aggravated arson is a felony, punishable by between 10 years and life in prison. If convicted, you would not be eligible for parole until you completed 10 years of imprisonment. A skilled Los Angeles aggravated arson lawyer can help you mitigate your arson charge and seek the lowest possible penalties.
Unlawfully Causing a Fire and Potential Penalties (Cal. Penal Code §452)
If you recklessly set fire to or burned any structure, forest land, or property, you may be charged with unlawfully causing a fire, also known as reckless burning.
Under the law, “recklessly” means you were aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that your actions would set fire to, burn, or cause to burn a structure, forest land, or property. In other words, you acted in a way that significantly deviated from how a reasonable person would have acted in a similar situation.
An example of reckless burning may be if you throw the remnants of a cigarette into the brush or woods in California or if you leave a fire burning unsupervised while backpacking. Whether you are a resident or visitor of the state, it is hard to miss the news regarding the drought and the high fire risk. You should be aware of the need to put out all cigarettes in a proper receptacle and douse all fires thoroughly. A California arson lawyer with Spolin Law P.C. will listen to your situation and make sure your story is heard.
For the crime of reckless burning, you face:
- Unlawful fire of property – Misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000
- Unlawful fire of a structure or forest land – Misdemeanor or felony, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine, or up to three years in prison
- Unlawful fire of inhabited structure or property – Misdemeanor or felony, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine, or up to four years in prison
- Unlawful fire that caused great bodily injury – Misdemeanor or felony, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine, or up to six years in prison
Possessing Materials in Preparation of Arson (Cal. Penal Code §453)
If you possess, manufacture, give away, loan, transfer, or offer for sale any flammable or combustible materials, or any incendiary device, in preparation of willfully and maliciously using the substance or device to set fire to any structure, forest land, or property, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and sentenced to time in jail for one year or sentenced to imprisonment, which you may be able to serve in jail.
Attempted Arson (Cal. Penal Code §455)
If you intentionally and maliciously try to set fire to any structure, forest land, or property, or you commit any preliminary act to doing so, can be charged with a felony for attempted arson and punished by up to three years in prison.
Additional Consequences of an Arson Conviction
If you are convicted of arson, aggravated arson, attempted arson, or certain other arson-related crimes, then under Cal. Penal Code §457.1, you may be required to register as an arson offender for the rest of your life.
You must register with the county sheriff where you live within 14 days of being released from jail, prison, or a mental health facility. You then have to verify your registration each year or register in any new county you move to. Your name will be on the California Arson Registry, which is available to fire departments but is not public.
If you fail to register as an arson offender, you can be charged with a separate offense, punishable by up to one year in jail.
You can also expect to experience a number of collateral consequences in addition to the criminal penalties. Whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you now have a permanent criminal record. This can lead to:
- Difficulty continuing your education
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- Difficulty obtaining a job
- Difficulty being approved for rental housing
- Difficulty being approved for loans
- Immigration issues, including deportation
- Child custody or visitation issues
- Loss of your right to vote during incarceration
- Loss of right to own firearms, if convicted of a felony
Defending Against Allegations of Arson
If you have been accused of any arson offense, contact an Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Spolin Law P.C. as soon as you can. We will thoroughly investigate your situation and review the authorities’ findings to determine the appropriate defenses in your case. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to argue:
- The fire began by an accident
- The cause of the fire was not an individual’s actions but an electrical issue or act of nature
- You did not cause the fire and have been falsely accused
- There has been a mistake of identity
- The prosecution’s evidence is insufficient
Hire a Trusted Los Angeles Arson Lawyer
The right Los Angeles arson attorney can make all the difference in your situation. Having a knowledgeable, experienced, and proven arson defense attorney on your case increases the likelihood of obtaining an acquittal at trial or minimizing the potential penalties of a conviction.
At Spolin Law P.C., we will immediately look into having the charges dismissed or reduced. If the prosecutor pushes forward with charges, we will review your legal options with you, including the possibility of a plea deal or defending yourself at trial. If you go to trial, we will explain possible defense strategies, including fighting to suppress unlawfully obtained evidence.
To learn more, call us at (310) 424-5816 or contact us online to schedule a time to talk about your case. We offer free consultations so that you can gather the information you need before you take next steps and hire an experienced Los Angeles arson attorney.