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Arson is the willful and malicious burning of a structure, forest land, or property, as defined in California Penal Code 451. Arson is a serious crime with severe punishments on conviction. You may be charged with arson if you set a fire or helped or aided someone else who caused a fire.



Arson, also called malicious arson is a felony and if convicted you could face prison time and fines. If you are charged with malicious arson it is best to get legal help as soon as possible. Your attorney will immediately review the situation, evaluate evidence, and defend your innocence.

The prosecutor must prove two main elements for arson. They must prove that you set a fire to a structure, forest land, or property, and that you did so willfully and maliciously.

  • A structure is any type of inhabitable or uninhabitable residence, vehicle, tent, or business. Forest land includes grasslands, wetlands, trees, brush, or plains.
  • Property is any type of personal property that belongs to someone else.
  • If you set the fire intentionally, or with malicious intent, you can be charged with malicious arson. It is important to note that you can be charged with malicious arson for setting fire to your own property if you did so for financial gain or for fraud.
  • You can be subject to additional charges if someone was hurt or killed as a result of the fire.
  • Arson is an intentional act. If the fire was a result of an accident or unintentional act, the charges may be reduced to reckless burning, a misdemeanor charge.

Malicious arson carries a range of penalties upon conviction. The penalties depend on the specific details of the case and the extent of damages. In general, penalties range from 16 months to nine years in prison. 

The sentence is two, four, or six years for burning an uninhabited structure or forest land. A sentence of three, five, or eight years will be imposed if the structure was inhabited. The sentence of five, seven, or nine years will be imposed if the fire caused serious bodily injury to another person.

  • In addition to imprisonment, you could face fines of $10,000 to $50,000 or up to twice the amount you would have gained if you defrauded someone.
  • You will receive a strike against you under California law. Penalties double if you are convicted on a second strike and a third strike could result in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
  • If convicted of arson, will need to register as an arson offender for the rest of your life. Enhanced penalties apply in some circumstances such as when a police officer or firefighter was hurt.

If you or a loved one is facing arson charges, call our firm today. We are here to listen. We are here to help, and we can help you fight for your future. Give us a call today.

If you have been charged with

arson, call 805-477-0070 now.

We can provide you with a free case review.

Strongest Defense provides legal representation to individuals facing felony charges of arson in Ventura, Oxnard, and Camarillo, California. No attorney or law firm can make any promises or guarantee an outcome for your criminal case. The contents presented on this site are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Visiting this website does not establish an attorney/client relationship.

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