Arson is a criminal act of deliberately and maliciously setting fire to property. Although the act usually involves buildings, Sacramento arson laws cover vehicles, watercraft and forests. The state of California is infamous for wildfires that have left a trail of destruction in the past years.
A person can either be charged with basic arson or aggravated arson.
To convict a suspected arsonist, the prosecutor must prove to the court that the defendant acted willfully and maliciously. He must also prove the defendant set fire or burned or caused any structure, forest land or property to be burned.
The following are some of the specific arson laws in Sacramento and the entire state of California.
- California Penal Code Section 451 (arson) – A person can be charged with arson if he/she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.
- California Penal Code Section 451.5 (aggravated arson) – One is guilty of this charge if he/she deliberately and with intent to cause injury to one or more persons or to cause damage to property, sets fire to property, forest land or inhabited dwellings. The person must have been previously convicted of arson within the past 10 years for this charge to apply.
- California Penal Code Section 452 (unlawfully causing a fire) – A person is guilty of this charge if he/she unlawfully or recklessly sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property
- California Penal Code Section 453 (possessing, manufacturing or disposing of combustible material in preparation for an arson) – Anyone who possesses, manufactures or disposes of any combustible substance, or any incendiary device in an arrangement or preparation, with intent to willfully and maliciously use this material, substance, or device to set fire to or burn any structure, forest land, or property is guilty of this felony charge.
- California Penal Code Section 455(attempted arson) – Anyone who willfully and maliciously attempts to set fire to or attempts to burn or to aid, counsel or procure the burning of any structure or property, or who commits any act preliminary thereto, or in furtherance thereof, shall be charged.
A defendant may be charged with aggravated arson it is determined that he/she has a previous conviction of arson within the past 10 years or cause damage and losses in excess of $6,500,000.
The defense can beat an arson on the basis of age, mental incapacity, duress, lack of criminal intent/mistake of fact and justification/necessity.
According to Sacramento arson laws and statutes, Arson Causing Great Bodily Injury attracts a jail term of up to 9 years in prison while Arson Causing Damage to Inhabited Structures or Properties is punishable by up to 8 years in prison.
If found guilty of an Arson of Property charge, the defendant can face a jail term of up to 3 years in prison.
Aggravated Arson attracts a punishment of life in prison while Attempted Arson is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.