A 40-year-old man was arrested recently in Oxnard, after police witnessed him starting a fire near a set of railroad tracks. The arresting officer noticed the man stoking a fire, but when the officer approached the man, he became argumentative and attempted to leave the area. The officer called in a K-9 unit, which subdued the suspect. The suspect was recently arrested in connection with another arson, also in Oxnard. In addition to being charged with arson, the suspect will also face charges of resisting arrest and threatening a police officer.
The Courts treat arson charges in California seriously. Arson and other fire-related crimes are defined under the California Penal Code in Sections 451 through 457. According to the law, a person commits arson when he (or 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.”
When many people think of arson, they think of a fire set for the purpose of committing insurance fraud on a property they own. Although those types of fires are included in the arson statutes, it is possible to be convicted of arson when the accused does not stand to receive any material benefit from having set the fire.
An arson conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to nine years, depending upon the circumstances of the fire, and whether or not the arson resulted in substantial injury to a person, involved an inhabited structure, or resulted in damage to a structure or land. Special enhancements can be applied to persons previously convicted of arson, circumstances where firefighters or other emergency personnel were injured, multiple people were injured, multiple buildings were burned, or accelerants or delay devices were used to start or encourage the fire.
Persons convicted of arson are also required under state law to register with local law enforcement agencies, in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Courts can also require persons convicted of arson to undergo psychiatric evaluations as part of preparation for sentencing.
If you are facing an arson charge in Ventura County, you need the experience of a dedicated criminal defense attorney in Court. Robert M. Helfend is a criminal defense attorney in Ventura County, and has successfully defended clients facing California criminal charges for 30 years. Mr. Helfend provides aggressive criminal defense in Ventura County. For a consultation on your case involving arson, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Helfend toll-free at (800) 834-6434 or locally at (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317, or (818) 591-2809. Robert M. Helfend is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you!