A person is guilty of arson when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to, burns or aids in burning a structure, forestland, or property.
There are two types of arson in California: Simple arson and Aggravated arson.
A defendant may face simple arson charges when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire or aids in burning a structure, forestland, or property.
Aggravated arson can be charged if a defendant willfully and maliciously sets fire or burns a structure with intent to injure a person or to damage property.
The charges and penalties a defendant may face will depend on what was destroyed, whether injuries occurred in the arson, or whether there was motive opportunity.
Arson cases provided by motive opportunity are not usually based on scientific analysis. For example, if a property was over insured, the owner was unable to sell the property and upside down on payments, it would provide a motive for the owner to burn the property. Additionally, whether or not accelerants were found in the causation of the fire becomes a factor.
- If someone dies in the event of an Arson, one can be charged with murder.
- Fire to a structure or forest land is punishable by 2, 4, or 6 years.
- An inhabited dwelling Arson is punishable by 3, 5, or 8 years in State Prison.
- If there is great bodily injury in the Arson, it is punishable by 5, 7, or 9 years in State Prison.