What is Arson?
Arson is the willful and malicious burning or charring of properties. The majority of arson crimes involve damage to buildings, but it can also be committed by a person who sets fire to a boat, or forest land.
An individual committing arson would most certainly:
- Damage real or personal property of another person without their consent or
- Damage real personal property with the intent of defrauding an insurer
What Are the Types of Arson?
The California punishment for arson has a few different arson-related crimes and penalties that vary depending on the individual’s intent and harm caused – to individuals and certain types of properties.
Arson applies if the defendant:
- Acted willfully and maliciously
- Set fire or burned or caused to be burned
- Set fire or burned/caused to be burned any structure, forest land or property
Is Arson Considered a Misdemeanor or a Felony in California?
In general, arson status a felony due to the potentiality of causing injuries or death, but still is divided into several punishments under the Penal Code Section 451, 451.5, 452, 453, 455, and 457.1.
The felony punishments are:
- Arson Causing Great Bodily Injury – punishable by up to nine years in prison.
- Arson Causing Damage to Inhabited Structures or Properties – punishable by up to eight years in prison.
- Arson Causing Damage to Structures or Forest Land – punishable by up to six years in prison.
- Arson of Property – punishable by up to three years in prison.
- Aggravated Arson – punishable by up to life in prison.
- Attempted Arson – punishable by up to three years in prison.
Fines for arson go up to $50,000.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
Misdemeanors are punishable by substantial fines or jail time, but most misdemeanors are adjudicated in a shortened trial; and if the defendant is going to serve any jail term, then it would most likely be served in a local or county jail. On the other hand, a felony is the more serious type of crime and is often classified by degrees – being the first one the most serious. A felony is punishable by substantial fines and prison sentences that exceed the year. If a defendant is convicted of a felony, then jail time will be served in a state or federal correctional institution.
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