Arson can cause widespread destruction, injury, and death. That is why the state legislature designed laws to punish those who start fires harshly. If you have been charged with arson, you may be facing severe penalties. Therefore, you may need the skilled representation of an Orange County arson lawyer to defend your rights and freedom.

The Law Offices of Scott D. Henry is one of the area’s premier criminal defense firms. Our team is dedicated to protecting the rights and freedom of our clients. Mr. Henry and his legal team could build an effective defense strategy based on the specifics of your case. We realize the impact a conviction could have on your future. That is why our criminal defense attorneys thoughtfully address any questions or concerns you may have, advise you of your rights, and determine the best steps to take in moving forward.

State Arson Laws

California Penal Code 451 PC makes intentionally and maliciously setting fire to a structure, forest land, or other property a felony. There are many different types of arson crimes. Each type carries its own set of penalties if you are convicted. In addition to possibly serving jail or prison time and paying substantial fines, you may have to register as a convicted arson offender. The registration requirements are similar to those for a convicted sex offender, including the need to routinely update your whereabouts to local law enforcement.

What are the Penalties for Setting a Fire?

The penalties in Orange County Courts vary significantly for a violation of 451 PC. It largely depends on the two following factors: the type of property that was burned and whether an innocent bystander suffered a burn injury. The following are potential prison terms for arson under Penal Code 451 PC:

  • For setting fire to personal property, the terms are 16 months, two years, or three years.
  • For arson of a structure or forest land, the terms are two, four, or six years.
  • For setting fire to inhabited structures or property, the terms are three, five, or eight years.
  • For arson resulting in great bodily injury, the terms are five, seven, or nine years.

California Penal Code 452 PC is the misdemeanor equivalent of 451 PC. It addresses the difference between intentionally and maliciously setting a fire and causing a fire through reckless conduct. Reckless conduct resulting in a fire is viewed as a misdemeanor and holds penalties of up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 fine. An experienced local attorney could help someone facing arson charges minimize the potential penalties.

How Attorneys Build Defenses for Arson Charges

To be convicted of felony arson under Penal Code 451, the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant acted willfully and maliciously, and he or she set fire to or burned a structure, forest land, or property. To be convicted of misdemeanor arson, or reckless arson, under Penal Code 451, the prosecution needs to prove that:

  • The defendant set fire to or burned a structure, forest land, or property.
  • He or she was aware their actions could present a risk of fire.
  • He or she ignored the risk.
  • That ignoring that risk is a “gross deviation” from how a reasonable person would have acted.
  • Based on these requirements, there are numerous effective defenses for arson offenses. Some may include:
  • The act was not willful or malicious
  • The fire was an accident
  • The defendant were falsely accused
  • The defendant were mistakenly identified
  • Proving the fire was started by other means (such as faulty wiring or lightning)
  • Law enforcement officials did something wrong in the investigation process

An experienced defense lawyer in Orange County could use one of these strategies to fight the arson charges against you. Scott D. Henry and his team understand that no two cases are the same. We could thoroughly investigate your case, using a team of skilled experts. Based on our investigation and the experts’ findings, we could implement an effective defense strategy.

Speak with an Orange County Arson Attorney

Arson is considered a violent crime and carries strict penalties, which can last a lifetime. This is why you should have a proactive and diligent attorney on your side. Mr. Henry and our entire legal team could fight tirelessly for your rights, future, and freedom. If you are facing these charges, there is so much at stake. You should contact an Orange County arson lawyer immediately. Our skilled attorneys at the Law Office of Scott D. Henry could help you through this challenging time by providing you with an effective defense. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.

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