The Two Main Types of Arson Charges and Their Potential Consequences
When a person deliberately sets fire to something in California, they have committed arson. Due to the hot and dry climate in this state, it is no secret that wildfires are easy to start and can cause tremendous damage. Due to our recent catastrophic fires, prosecutors are under a lot of pressure to try and convict anyone accused of arson.
Many people do not realize that in some cases a person can be arrested and convicted for starting a fire on accident. If you have been accused of setting a fire or being involved in the setting of a fire, then you should immediately reach out to a criminal defense attorney for help. You can reach The Mattern Law Firm by calling 310-342-8254. In the meantime, read on to learn about the two main types of arson.
Malicious arson refers to setting a fire on purpose
California penal code defines malicious arson as purposely setting fire to a building, a forest, or other property. In order to get a conviction, the prosecution must prove behind a reasonable doubt that the person accused not only set the fire but that they did so willfully or with maliciously.
Note that a person can be convicted of malicious arson even if the entire property they set on fire did not burn and even if it was not destroyed. Just setting fire to part of a property can be enough for a conviction. In most cases, a person cannot be charged with and convicted of setting fire to their own property, except in situations where they set the fire in an effort to defraud someone or if a person was injured in the fire.
A person convicted of malicious arson is likely to spend time in jail or prison. The sentence ranges between 16 months and nine years, depending on the circumstances and results of the fire. They can also be ordered to pain numerous fines and restitution. The judge has the legal right to add $50,000 in fines or twice whatever the financial gain was in the event the fire was set to defraud someone.
Reckless arson refers setting a fire accidently
Also referred to as reckless burning, reckless arson is not as serious a charge as malicious arson but can still lead to serious consequences. A conviction requires the prosecution to prove that the person accused set the fire but does not require that their intent is proven. However, the prosecution does need to prove that the person who set the fire either knew that their actions were likely to start a fire or that they should have known.
The consequences of a reckless arson conviction can be as long as four years in state prison if it is charged as a felony. Fines can reach as high as $1,000. If you are charged with either reckless or malicious arson, it is important to contact your attorney as soon as possible. Call The Mattern Law Firm at 310-342-8254 now for more details.