Defenses Against Arson Charges in Orange County, CAWildfire is a very real danger here in California. Dry, dead vegetation and high winds can quickly transform a single spark into a raging inferno that may be impossible to contain or extinguish. Whole neighborhoods have been burnt to the ground by California wildfires, resulting in injury, death, and billions in property damage and loss.

Unbelievably, many of these fires were started as an act of arson.

Penalties for An Arson Conviction in Orange County, CA

Arson occurs when a person willfully and maliciously sets fire to any structure, forest land, or property. It’s played a role in many serious crimes. Criminals have used arson to destroy evidence, deprive someone of their property, and commit extortion, insurance fraud, and even murder.

Arson is a felony crime in California. Depending on the circumstances a person convicted of arson in California could be sentenced to life in prison or even the death penalty.

Here’s a list of the penalties you could be facing if convicted of arson in California:

  • Up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Up to three years in state prison for arson of property (this includes your own property).
  • Up to six years in state prison if you set fire to a structure or forest land.
  • Up to eight years in state prison if you set fire to an inhabited structure or inhabited property.
  • Up to nine years in state prison if your act of arson resulted in great bodily injury.

It gets worse. You could be facing 10 years to life if:

  • You’ve been convicted of arson on one or more occasions within the past 10 years.
  • The fire caused property damage and other losses (including fire suppression costs) in excess of $8,300,000.
  • The fire caused damage to, or the destruction of, five or more inhabited structures.

If the fire resulted in death, you could be facing capital charges in addition to arson. A conviction could land you in prison for life or on death row. (Raymond Lee Oyler was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for starting a 2006 fire that led to the deaths of five U.S. Forest Service firefighters.)

Defenses Against Arson Charges in Orange County, CA

The penalties for arson are severe. If you’ve been charged with an arson crime you didn’t commit, it’s important to seek legal representation to protect your rights. In order to get a conviction, the state will have to convince the members of a jury that you are guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. All you need to do in order to get acquitted is to get just one juror to consider that you may be innocent of the arson charges. There are many defense strategies that can accomplish this goal. They include:

  • The fire was the result of an accident rather than criminal intent
  • The fire was started by natural causes
  • You’ve been falsely accused – the fire was started by someone else
  • No property was damaged or destroyed
  • No one was injured or killed
  • Mental illness

Speak to an Orange County Arson Attorney About Your Case

An arson conviction can have a negative impact on your life. You need experienced legal representation to achieve the best outcome.

Jim Tanizaki is a former Orange County DA turned criminal defense attorney. He knows the strategies the prosecution will use to obtain their conviction and is able to devise effective defense strategies to counter their charges against you. These strategies often result in reduced or dropped charges for his clients.

Contact the law office of Jim Tanizaki without delay to schedule a free initial consultation with a leading Orange County, CA arson lawyer.