Dee Finney's blog
start date July 20, 2011
today's date February 3, 2013
TOPIC: YOSEMITE WILDFIRE
NOTE FROM DEE: I HATE IT WHEN SOME DREAMS COME TRUE - ESPECIALLY THIS ONE
THE BURNING BUSH
2-3-2013 - DREAM - I and a small group of people had just moved to the
country to start a farm for our community project. For some reason, the
local farmers around there didn't want us there. We didn't know why.
It was a good thing that it was winter time, because on this particular day, I was walking along the road nearby the land we had just purchased, and I saw smoke coming up from a bush near the road.
There wasn't time to call for help and help would have taken too long to get there, so I ran over to the bush, and took off my shoe, (a white running shoe I currently wear) and started beating on the burning brush with the shoe and managed to put out the fire.
While I was doing that, two other men I knew stopped their cars and saw me beating out the fire with my shoe and ran to help, hollering to be careful, and said they had seen the smoke rising in the cold air and wanted to see what was going on.
I was glad they did, because someone had deliberately started the fire (not a cigarette) apparently to burn the field and stop our project.
NOTE: Some months ago, I had a warning dream that I should not move foreward with the project because of 'fires', and so I pouted and waited for the fires that I had been warned about to happen, and there were some, many caused by arson according to reports.
To this day, I cannot understand why a group of people would prefer to have the land burnt to a crisp than be used for a good purpose.
PREVIOUS FIRE DREAMS RELATED:
4-26-12 - DREAM - I'm in a hotel or office building with Rex (from One Life to Live TV show) . We are standing in front of a mirror with a dark haired young woman who looks a great deal like myself. We both have dark wavy hair - shoulder length. My hair is cut short at the widow's peak. I'm carrying a black shoulder strap purse. The other woman and myself are wearing bright blue shirts and black skirts and high heels. Rex is wearing a black suit. We walk over to the elevator to go upstairs to a meeting.
I wake up and hear the phone make an odd buzzing sound. I say, "I'm ready for a message", and all of a sudden, Rex and I are in a car on a mountainous road careening fast around a curve.
I wake up, hear the phone ring once. I say, "I'm ready for a message, and Rex and I are now back in the car, parked at a curb in a city. My sister and a little boy are in the back seat sitting on the left. My sister and the little boy open the door and get out of the car, leaving the door open.
Rex and I see three fire trucks go by the car the opposite direction from the direction we are parked on the left side of the road. There is a lot of traffic and the fire trucks are not in a hurry apparently.
Rex reaches behind him, slams the car door shut, leaving my sister standing on the sidewalk with her little boy. He whips the car around, back into traffic. the fire trucks and traffic is already gone somewhere and Rex drives fast, around some guys standing in the street by a car, drives past a curved intersection and pulls up to the curb in front of a drug store, and I wake up.
No idea what city we are in. Very mysterious.
note: the above is probably radiation deformities. SEE:http://www.greatdreams.com/blog-2012/dee-blog206.html
3-6-12 - MEDITATION DREAM - TRAIN TRACKS
3-26-12 MEDITATION: I was a passenger in Joe's car. We were supposed to make a right turn but Joe missed the turn. We started to go up a hill, and the next place to turn around so we could make the original turn was quite a ways up a steep hill. Instead of going up the hill to turn around, he just stopped and in the road . The road ahead then started getting covered with brown dead leaves until I couldn't see the road anymore.
A moment later, I had a vision of getting a sympathy card in the mail.
3-28-12- THE HOSES - DREAM
I'm not sure where I was, but I thought I was at home. There was a woman on the second floor who wasn't normal. Twice, when I was in her room, this tall, thin man came in with very strange hair for a man. It looked like a cap or wig, curlish, hanging almost over his eyes in front, over his ears and longish in back as well.
He held this woman strangely as well, and looked like he was talking in her ear seductively, and she sat there, held in his arms with her head lolled over towards the right with her mouth hanging open. What was stranger yet, was that he had a thick rubber hose attached to something held very closely up to her neck as well.
I didn't see any water connected or used with that hose. It almost looked like he was speaking into it, but I couldn't figure out why he needed to be holding that woman in his arms while he did that or why she acted so strangely at the same time. He did that twice.
Down in the basement, was a lot of semi-coiled hoses exactly the same except two were flagged with red lines around them and two were flagged with blue lines around them.
I knew I had to remember which was which in case I had to do something with them in the future.
NOTE: I HAVE THE FEELING THAT THE WOMAN REPRESENTS ' THE UNITED STATES'
SEE ALSO: RED LINE - BLUE LINE WHIICH MEANS RED LIST - BLUE LIST
THIS IS ABOUT YOSEMITE PARK http://www.greatdreams.com/blog-2012/dee-blog184.html
YOSEMITE IS 70 MILES FROM SONORA, CA http://www.earthmountainview.com
7-3-12 FIRE IN THE SKY - DREAM
This was a lucid dream - in other words, I was really awake.
I was told to take a piece of paper that had squares on it, and to write vertically over toward the right side the words 'FIRE IN THE SKY'
I was then told to turn the piece of paper over and write what it meant to me to see FIRE IN THE SKY..
I looked at the paper and there were lots of letters on the paper already, all gibberish, but blurry. I couldn't read either side of the paper. All the spaces were already filled in.
Again, I was told to write vertically, FIRE IN THE SKY on the front side of the paper and on the back side to describe what it meant to see FIRE IN THE SKY.
I managed to write the words FIRE IN THE SKY vertically on the right side of
the paper then, but on the back, it was already filled in with gibberish so I
couldn't do what I was told.
I guess I have to do it on my computer instead.
7-17-12 - SHAMANIC JOURNEY
I saw a map of North America and the word AMERICA was placed in capital letters on top of the map that was all black.
I questioned why was the map all black, and the answer came into my head, "How can I put seven dangers on a map of America all at the same time?
Now the question is "What are the seven dangers?"
I already know that two are drought and famine. The corn crop is already destroyed in the central states.
We ar4e still having fires in California and other states.
So that is three - What else could there be?
7-25-12 - DREAM - I lived next door to a very round woman who didn't want anything round in her front yard, so she made her husband who was equally round to, plant her entire front yard - about 30 feet by 30 feet in sections of bushes two inches thick by 3 feet long. Since this was a new planting, and not leafed out yet, I could see precisely each section of bush he had planted. It looked nice, but who wants a bush 30 feet by 30 feet in their front yard. How would you keep it trimmed neatly after it leafed out?
The ground at this point in spring was extremely wet and I couldn't walk anywhere that didn't have grass growing on it which was only about 1/2 inch tall, but the man who was planting the bushes for his wife decided to cut across the corner of my lot with this 4 wheeled cart so he could burn the trimmings of his bushes in my driveway.
He lit the dry stuff on fire and it didn't burn well because it was so wet so it just smoldered for a bit and went out again.
I couldn't smell the smoke.
I begged him not to drive on my lawn and then went into the house.
Inside my house, the walls were wallpapered with a yellow background with orange flowers all over it.
Every few feet was a gold doorknob and I didn't know until I opened the door which were also wallpapered, whether it was a closet, or a door to another room or just an opening the door fit into which most of them were. They were doors to nowhere.
My daughter came to visit and I showed her this weird room. We couldn't figure out why someone would build a room like that.
I heard a telephone ring somewhere in the house, but by the time I found the right door to the next room, it stopped ringing.
August 26, 2013
Yosemite Wildfire 2013: Blaze Poses 'Every Challenge That There Can Be'
TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif. — A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco's famously pure drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted.
Nearly 3,700 firefighters battled the approximately 230-square-mile blaze, the biggest wildfire on record in California's Sierra Nevada. They reported modest progress, saying the fire was 15 percent contained.
Utility officials monitored the clarity of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and used a massive new $4.6 billion gravity-operated pipeline system to move water quickly to reservoirs closer to the big city. The Hetch Hetchy supplies water to 2.6 million people in the San Francisco Bay area, 150 miles away.
"We're taking advantage that the water we're receiving is still of good quality," said Harlan Kelly Jr., general manager of the city's Public Utilities Commission. "We're bringing down as much water as possible and replenishing all of the local reservoirs."
At the same time, utility officials gave assurances that they have a six-month supply of water in reservoirs near the Bay area.
So far the ash that has been raining onto the Hetch Hetchy has not sunk as far as the intake valves, which are about halfway down the 300-foot O'Shaughnessy Dam. Utility officials said that the ash is non-toxic but that the city will begin filtering water for customers if problems are detected. That could cost more.
On Monday the fire was still several miles away from the steep granite canyon where the reservoir is nestled, but several spot fires were burning closer, and firefighters were protecting hydroelectric transmission lines and other utility facilities.
"Obviously we're paying close attention to the city's water supply," said Glen Stratton, an operations chief on the fire suppression team.
Power generation at the reservoir was shut down last week so that firefighters would not be imperiled by live wires. San Francisco is buying replacement power from other sources to run City Hall and other municipal buildings.
It has been at least 17 years since fire ravaged the northernmost stretch of Yosemite that is under siege.
Park officials cleared brush and set sprinklers on two groves of giant sequoias that were seven to 10 miles away from the fire's front lines, said park spokesman Scott Gediman. While sequoias have a chemical in their bark to help them resist fire, they can be damaged when flames move through slowly.
The fire has swept through steep Sierra Nevada river canyons and stands of thick oak and pine, closing in on Tuolumne City and other mountain communities. It has confounded ground crews with its 300-foot walls of flame and the way it has jumped from treetop to treetop.
Crews bulldozed two huge firebreaks to try to protect Tuolumne City, five miles from the fire's edge.
"We've got hundreds of firefighters staged in town to do structure protection," Stratton said. "If the fire does come to town, we're ready."
Meanwhile, biologists with the U.S. Forest Service are studying the effect on wildlife. Much of the area that has burned is part of the state's winter-range deer habitat. Biologist Crispin Holland said most of the large deer herds would still be well above the fire danger.
Biologists discovered stranded Western pond turtles on national forest land near the edge of Yosemite. Their marshy meadow had burned, and the surviving creatures were huddled in the middle of the expanse in what little water remained.
"We're hoping to deliver some water to those turtles," Holland said. "We might also drag some brush in to give them cover."
Wildlife officials were also trying to monitor at least four bald eagle nests in the fire-stricken area.
While it has put a stop to some backcountry hiking, the fire has not threatened the Yosemite Valley, where such sights as the Half Dome and El Capitan rock formations and Yosemite Falls draw throngs of tourists. Most of the park remained open to visitors.
The U.S. Forest Service said the fire was threatening about 4,500 structures and destroyed at least 23.
Rugged terrain, strong winds and bone-dry conditions have hampered firefighters' efforts to contain the blaze, which began Aug. 17. The cause has not been determined
YOSEMITE, CALIFORNIA - RIM FIRE AUGUST 2013
The Rim Fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park � one of more than 50 major brush blazes burning across the western U.S. � more than tripled in size overnight and still threatens about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings. Fire officials said the blaze burning in remote, steep terrain had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained on Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. (AP
GROVELAND, CA - AUGUST 22: Firefighters douse hot spots while battling the Rim Fire on August 22, 2013 in Groveland, California. The Rim Fire continues to burn out of control and threatens 2,500 homes outside of Yosemite National Park. Over 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze that was reduced to only 2 percent containment after it nearly tripled in size overnight.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. January 28, 2013 (AP)
A decade after a raging fire swept through Southern California's San Bernardino foothills, an arsonist was sentenced to death for causing the deaths of five men who died of heart attacks.
It was an unusual legal interpretation of murder likely to be debated in appellate courts.
A lawyer for Rickie Lee Fowler, 31, suggested in arguments Monday that he could not have foreseen that anyone would die and said there was lingering doubt about whether he threw a road flare that was believed to have started the blaze. A second man was seen with him that night.
Superior Court Judge Michael Smith imposed the punishment recommended by a jury in spite of the fact that the victims did not die by Fowler's hand. They died of heart attacks allegedly brought on by the stress of evacuating their homes as flames raged.
Smith had the option of reducing Fowler's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He declined.
"Today, after nearly ten years, justice has now been secured for the victims and their families, and those whose lives were affected by the actions of Rickie Lee Fowler," said District Attorney Michael Ramos.
Fowler was convicted in August of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson.
Prosecutors said Fowler lit the fire in 2003 out of rage after he was thrown out of a house where his family was staying.
The blaze scorched more than 142 square miles in October 2003 and destroyed 1,000 buildings as it burned for nine days in the foothills above San Bernardino. The men died after their homes burned or as they tried to evacuate.
Fowler became a suspect after witnesses reported seeing a passenger in a white van tossing burning objects into dry brush. Investigators interviewed Fowler several months after the fire but didn't have enough evidence to file charges until six years later.
Some legal experts previously said the jury's death recommendation for a crime tangential to the arson appeared to be unprecedented. Loyola Law School professor Stan Goldman said a key consideration was whether it was foreseeable to Fowler that five men would die of heart attacks when he set the fire.
He cited a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision reversing the death sentence of a man charged with aiding and abetting a murder. The court held that the sentence should not apply to someone who didn't kill, attempt or intend to kill the victim.
Smith said the evidence shows Fowler personally and intentionally started the blaze.
Fowler, who had a long criminal record, was back in prison for burglary by the time authorities charged him with setting the blaze, one of many fires that raged simultaneously throughout Southern California in 2003.
He also was convicted of serial sodomy of an inmate and sentenced to three terms of 25 years to life while in prison awaiting trial.
Prosecutors at the arson trial portrayed Fowler as a sadistic felon who raped, robbed and tortured people throughout his life.
Defense attorneys said Fowler never acknowledged starting the fire and suffered a horrific childhood with methamphetamine-addicted parents and a neighbor who molested him.
Prosecutors said Fowler gave authorities a note in 2008 acknowledging he was there when the fire began. The following year, he told reporters he had been badgered into making a confession.
Defense attorney Don Jordan said before sentencing that there was doubt about whether Fowler was responsible for the blaze, and his client didn't know where or when it started.
"For all these reasons, please don't impose the death penalty on this poor creature before you," Jordan told the judge.
|Part of the common law series|
|Element (criminal law)|
|Scope of criminal liability|
|Offence against the person|
|Crimes against property|
|Crimes against justice|
|Defences to liability|
|Other common law areas|
Arson is the crime of intentionally and maliciously setting fire to buildings, wildland areas, cars or other property with the intent to cause damage. It may be distinguished from other causes such as spontaneous combustion and natural wildfires. Arson often involves fires deliberately set to the property of another or to one's own property as to collect insurance compensation.
A person who commits this crime is called an arsonist. Many arsonists use accelerants, such as gasoline or kerosene to get a fire going.
Arson has four elements.
The elements are:
Furthermore, "[t]he burning of one's own dwelling to collect insurance did not constitute common law arson. It was generally assumed in early England that one had the legal right to destroy his own property in any manner he chose."
In the U.S., the common law elements of arson are often varied in different jurisdictions. For example, the element of "dwelling" is no longer required in most states, and arson occurs by the burning of any real property without consent or with unlawful intent. Arson is prosecuted with attention to degree of severity in the alleged offense. First degree arson generally occurs when persons are harmed or killed in the course of the fire, while second degree arson occurs when significant destruction of property occurs. While usually a felony, arson may also be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, "criminal mischief", or "destruction of property." Burglary also occurs, if the arson involved a "breaking and entering". A person may be sentenced to death if arson occurred as a method of homicide, as was the recent case in California of Raymond Lee Oyler and in Texas of Cameron Willingham.
In New York, arson is charged in five degrees. Arson in the first degree is a Class A-1 felony and requires the intent to burn the building with a person inside using an explosive incendiary device. It has a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. 
Some states, such as California, prosecute the lesser offense of "reckless burning" when the fire is set recklessly as opposed to willfully and maliciously. The study of the causes is the subject of fire investigation.
|Look up arson in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Media related to Arsons at Wikimedia Commons
Los Angeles (CNN) -- A 24-year-old man was charged Monday with arson in connection with a rash of car and building fires across the Los Angeles area, authorities said.
Harry Burkhart was charged with one count of arson of an inhabited dwelling and will likely face additional charges as the investigation moves forward, said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Arson investigators counted 52 fires, most starting in parked cars, since Friday morning, but none since the man was was detained at 3 a.m. Monday, according to officials.
Burkhart is currently being held without bail.
"These were serious and potentially deadly crimes that needlessly endangered thousands of innocent lives," Villaraigosa told reporters. "These crimes will not be tolerated."
Burkhart is believed to a foreign national from Germany, according to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck.
Authorities hope, and believe one arsonist acted alone, but will behave as though he did not until they know for sure, Beck said.
Burkhart's arrest came when a sheriff's deputy stopped a van near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood early Monday, said Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore. The van matched the description of a vehicle believed related to some of the suspicious fires and the driver resembled a man seen in a surveillance video near the scene of one fire, he said.
The video showed a man who appears to be in his late 20s to mid-30s, with a ponytail, dark hair and a receding hairline.
No one was killed or seriously injured in the fires, though one firefighter and one civilian sustained minor injuries, said Los Angeles City Fire Chief Brian Cummings. Both he and the mayor estimated the fires caused some $3 million in damages.
Among the homes damaged was one that was once occupied by the Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
Eleven of the fires took place overnight, in the very early hours of Monday: nine within the city of Los Angeles and two in West Hollywood, fire department spokesman Cecco Secci said.
Cars were set on fire in Hollywood and Van Nuys, Moore said.
Los Angeles has not seen such a rash of fires since the city's riots in 1992.
CNN's Irving Last, Josh Levs, Drew Griffin, Stan Wilson and Casey Wian contributed to this report.
JAN. 2. 2012
Los Angeles Police identified the suspect in more than 50 arson fires as Harry Burkhart, a 24-year-old area resident who may have been motivated by immigration problems.
Burkhart was being held on a single charge of arson, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said yesterday at a press conference, adding additional charges are pending. Damages from the four days of fires amounted to about $3 million, he said.
An apartment complex that was burned in a spree of arson fires lies in ruins in Los Angeles, California. Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images
A Joint Arson Task Force, created as the crisis unfolded, is investigating the fires, which have occurred since Dec. 30 and mostly involved vehicles. The agencies included the Los Angeles Fire and Police departments, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Fire departments and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“We are very confident in this arrest,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said at the press conference. U.S. officials “privvy to removal hearings” recognized Burkhart and alerted the task force, he said.
The suspect was picked up at about 3 a.m. yesterday in the area where fires have occurred. His minivan was stopped by reserve Sheriff’s Deputy Shervin Lalezary, 30, who works for $1 a year, according to officials at the briefing. The deputy was then assisted by two Los Angeles police officers.
Sheriff Lee Baca called Lalezary a “citizen hero.”
No new fires have been reported since Burkhart was taken into custody, Captain Jaime Moore, a Los Angeles Fire Departmentspokesman, said at an earlier briefing. The vehicle Burkhart drove contained materials that could be used to start fires, officials said.
Moore said investigators were looking at about 100 clues in the case, now believed to involve 52 incidents.
The van had Canadian license plates. Burkhart is believed to be a German national, Beck said.
A U.S. immigration official helped police identify Burkhart, radio station KFI reported. He may have set fires out of anger after his mother was held for deportation, the radio station said, citing law enforcement sources it didn’t identify.
The alleged arsonist may have employed fire-starting cubes that are often used with charcoal barbecues, the station said. They are sold at drug and grocery stores.
“Thankfully, there have been no lives lost to these criminal acts and only minor injuries to date,” Villaraigosa said. He identified the injured as one civilian and one firefighter who was treated at a hospital and released.
Officials had at first attributed as many as 55 fires to the alleged arsonist. Through the day they reduced the total, saying others were unrelated. The fires were reported in the Los Angeles area, West Hollywood and Burbank, according to Erik Scott, another Fire Department spokesman.
“We had a test run of what happens when we have a domestic terrorist among us,” West Hollywood Mayor John Duran said at the press conference.
Most of the fires were set in vehicles, many under parking structures, according to Scott.
“This frequency is unusual as well as the pattern,” Scott said in a Jan. 1 interview. “There are so many of them in a short period of time. This is one of the largest sprees of arson fires I have witnessed.”
Officials were offering a $60,000 reward, consisting of $25,000 from the city council, $10,000 from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and $25,000 from the county, Scott said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org; Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Golum at firstname.lastname@example.org
Los Angeles (CNN) -- A joint task force Saturday was
investigating a string of 35 fires across several Southern California
communities, and one mayor called them a "new form of domestic terrorism."
Despite a $60,000 reward,
authorities had not made an arrest by Saturday afternoon.
The 21 initial fires, set in
rapid succession in the Hollywood area, prompted authorities in California to
post the reward in what they say is one of the worst arson sprees in recent
The fires were set within a span
of about five hours early Friday morning, and in nearly every case they were
started on parked cars, officials said. Some of the fires spread to nearby
Among the homes damaged was one
that was once occupied by Doors frontman Jim Morrison. The street where the
house sits -- Rothdell Trail -- was the inspiration for the Doors song, "Love
Seventeen fires were set in
Hollywood; four others in West Hollywood -- all of them within a 2-square mile
The fire department's Capt. Jaime
Moore told CNN Saturday an additional 14 fires were reported. Investigators will
determine whether they are arson and related to the other fires.
"This area of concern involves
vehicle fires and fires involving vehicles in structures," the Los Angeles Fire
Department said in a statement. "Ten of these fires were located in the North
Hollywood (Burbank) area and the last three were located in the Fairfax district
(southwest of Hollywood). The Los Angeles County Fire Department has reported
one fire meeting this criteria in the Lennox area."
West Hollywood Mayor John J.
Duran told CNN the arsonists "are using cars as an incendiary device to set
buildings on fire." Many of the buildings are close to each other and house
senior citizens who are not mobile, he said.
"We have a full-force deployment
out tonight," Duran said.
"When you have millions of
people living with millions of cars in these very dense neighborhoods, this is
becoming a new form of domestic terrorism that really has got our community in a
very bad spot."
County Supervisor Zev
Yaroslavsky told reporters Friday afternoon that authorities are "dead serious
about trying to apprehend the individual or individuals who are responsible" for
the arson fires.
"We want to get these SOBs
before they hurt somebody," he said.
Fire officials said they were
relieved no one was hurt, although a firefighter suffered a non-life-threatening
"If you're setting something
alight when people are going to bed, you obviously don't expect them to wake
up," resident Mark Todd told CNN affiliate
KTLA. "It sort of goes past arson to attempted murder."
The Hollywood area is home to about 20,000 people per square mile, said Los Angeles fire spokesman Erik Scott.
He also said the fires caused
$350,000 in property damage -- a "conservative estimate."
Authorities deployed extra
police officers after sundown. The Los Angeles Fire Department's arson unit
called in additional investigators to review surveillance footage and pore
through the ashes.
"While our police officers and
our fire departments are working on high alert in coming days, everyone must
remain vigilant," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
CNN's Adam Shivers contributed to this report.
California's arson laws are codified in California Penal Code 451and 452 PC. These laws prohibit willfully and maliciously...or even recklessly...setting fire to any building, forest land, or property.1
Arson laws typically don't apply to setting your own personal property (which does not include buildings or other real estate) on fire...UNLESS
The punishment for arson charges in California depends on (1) the type of property at issue, (2) whether or not someone was injured, and (3) whether you set the fire deliberately or only "recklessly."
The penalties for arson can include substantial state prison time...and may even include the penalties associated with murder if a victim of the arson is killed.3
Because both intentional and so-called "reckless" acts can result in felony arson charges, it is important to consult with a California arson defense attorney immediately if you are the subject of an accusation. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows the most effective ways to get your arson charges reduced or even dismissed.
Some legal defenses that can be useful in California arson cases include taking the position that:
In order to help you better understand the California "property destruction" crime of arson, our California criminal defense attorneys4 will address the following:
If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
You may also find helpful information in our related articles on Legal Definition of a Misdemeanor in California Law; Explanation of California Probation & Probation Violation Hearings; Legal Definition of a "Wobbler" in California Law; The Legal Definition of Great Bodily Injury/Harm Penal Code 12022.7; Legal Definition of a Felony in California Law; Attempted Crimes in California Criminal Law Penal Code sections 21a and 664 PC; California Three Strikes Law and Proposition 36 Reforms; Registration as a Sex Offender under Penal Code 290 PC; Expungement Under Penal Code 1203.4 PC; How to Apply for a California "Certificate of Rehabilitation" Penal Code Sections 4852.01 – 4852.21 PC; Common Legal Defenses to California Crimes; Accident as a Legal Defense under California Criminal Law; Mistaken Eyewitness Identification and California Law; California's Murder Law Penal Code 187(a) PC; The California "Felony-Murder" Rule; California Burglary Penal Code 459 PC; California Criminal "Trespass" & "Trespassing" Laws Penal Code 602 PC; and California Insurance Fraud.
Although California arson laws have been on the books since the 1870s, the current versions of the arson statutes were mostly enacted in 1979.5
The first California arson statute is California Penal Code 451 PC, which prohibits "willfully or maliciously" setting fire to a building, land, or other property.6
The second California arson law is California Penal Code 452 PC, which describes a crime technically referred to as "unlawfully causing a fire" (...and more commonly referred to as "reckless burning" or "reckless arson"). This code section prohibits recklessly setting fire to a building, land, or other property.7
Because of the collateral damage that frequently stems from California arson crimes, law enforcement teams put an enormous amount of money and other resources into trying to solve arson cases...and, in particular, apprehending and prosecuting suspected arsonists.
On that note, arson is a crime which requires very sophisticated investigation. In fact, "fire investigator" is now a job description...and there is a national organization that provides certification to former law enforcement personnel who want to be professional fire investigators.
Special units and elite teams are usually in charge of suspected arson cases, as they know how to analyze chemical and forensic evidence to locate the point of origin of a fire...a key fact which can help them determine how the fire started.
What the prosecutor has to prove to convict you of California arson depends on which California arson law you are being charged under.
The two choices are the "malicious arson" law, Penal Code 451 PC, and the "reckless arson" (or "reckless burning") law, Penal Code 452 PC. The main difference between arson and reckless arson / reckless burning is the state of mind that is present in the offender.
With respect to Penal Code 451 PC "willful or malicious arson" cases, the prosecutor must prove the following three facts (otherwise known as "elements of the crime"):
Let's take a closer look at some of these terms to better understand their meaning.
For purposes of the arson law, you set fire to or burn something when you damage or destroy it with fire. You don't need to damage or destroy the entire object...damaging even a very small part of it counts.9
Example: Lester is laid off from his job. In a fit of rage, he decides to burn down the five-story building where his old company is located. He sets a fire at the building one night after everyone has left...but Lester is not experienced at starting fires, and only the building's front door is actually damaged before the fire goes out.
Lester has still committed malicious arson...even though only a very small part of the building he targeted was burned.
A "structure" includes not just a building...but also any bridge, tunnel, power plant, or commercial or public tent.10
"Forest land" means any brush-covered land, cut-over land, forest, grasslands, or woods.11
Finally, "property" means any personal property (property that is not real estate...like a car, a boat, furniture...or even clothing12 ) or land other than forest land.13
Example: Louise, a high school student, uses cardboard to set a fire in a trash can at her school.
Louise is guilty of arson...the trash she burned is considered to be personal property, and it belonged to the school.14
BUT if the object that is burned is personal property, it is also necessary that the property NOT be your own....it has to be someone else's. Otherwise, it is not a crime to burn it...UNLESS you do so with the intent to defraud someone (like an insurance company) or the fire also injures someone else or their property.15
You act "willfully" if you commit an act willingly or on purpose. It doesn't matter if you didn't mean to break the law.16
You act "maliciously" if you intentionally commit a wrongful act...or when you do something with the unlawful intent to defraud, annoy, or injure someone else.17
In other words, to be convicted of Penal Code 451 PC "malicious arson," you need to have intended to do something wrong or to harm someone else or their property. If you did not so intend, then you may be charged instead with Penal Code 452 PC "reckless burning."
With respect to Penal Code 452 PC "reckless arson" cases, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements:
Here's what it means to act "recklessly" for the purposes of Penal Code 452 PC:
"Reckless" is actually a high standard and is not synonymous with careless or negligent. True "accidents"...such as forgetting to turn off the stove...won't typically result in a reckless burning conviction.
However, acting with a complete disregard for safety may. Examples of reckless burning include acts such as
Example: John lives in a trailer on the property where he works as a caretaker. The trailer has no cooking facilities, so he uses a campfire in a fire ring for all his cooking. There is a county sign prohibiting fires in the area not far from the trailer.
One day, John builds a campfire so he can make coffee, then puts it out (or so he thinks) with sand. Soon strong winds start blowing, and a fire starts on the premises. The fire ends up burning multiple homes and acres of national forest land. Investigators determine that John's campfire was the cause.
John is NOT guilty of reckless burning. He may have been negligent. But, since the campfire was the only way he could cook, it wasn't reckless—a gross deviation from reasonable behavior—for him to build the fire where he did.20
Sentencing and penalties for California arson charges vary a great deal, depending on a variety of factors including (but not limited to):
If you are convicted of any arson offense, the judge may order you to submit to a psychiatric or psychological evaluation in order to help him/her decide on the length of your jail or prison sentence.22
Below is an example of the types of penalties and punishment you may face if you are convicted under California's arson laws.
Let's say you recklessly start a fire or burn personal property (not a building or forest land)...and no one suffers a great bodily injury as a result. In this case, you will probably be charged with the crime of misdemeanor reckless arson / reckless burning.23
Potential penalties in this type of arson case would include:
Under some circumstances, reckless arson / reckless burning under
Penal Code 452 PC is a
This means that it may be charged as EITHER a
misdemeanor OR a felony , . . . usually depending on the circumstances of the crime and the defendant's criminal history.25
These circumstances are:
In addition, malicious arson under Penal Code 451 PC is always a felony .27
The potential felony penalties for malicious arson or felony reckless arson include the following:
As if that weren't enough, California law also provides for enhanced penalties for so-called "aggravated" arson cases. You face an additional and consecutive sentence of one (1) to five (5) years in California state prison if any of the following circumstances exist:
And while the following will not add an additional prison sentence, if either of these two circumstances were present, they are aggravating factors which the judge may use to determine the length of original sentence:
Finally, if the prosecutor alternatively or additionally proves that you started a fire intending to injure other people or damage an inhabited dwelling or structure...and
Simply put, a structure is "inhabited" if someone lives there.37 It isn't necessary that anyone be in the structure at the time of the fire, as long as the occupant intended to return.
Similarly, if the only reason that the occupant wasn't living in the structure at the time of the fire was due to a natural or other disaster, the home would technically be inhabited. A dwelling or other structure is considered not inhabited only if the occupant has moved out with no intention of returning...even if he/she left behind some personal property.38
Finally, even if you set fire to a vacant apartment unit, or another structure that is attached to (or a part of) a bigger inhabited structure . . . prosecutors can still charge you with aggravated arson.39
If you are convicted of
you must additionally register as a convicted arsonist.40
This means that...like an individual who is required to
register as a sex offender under
Penal Code 290 PC 41 ...you must routinely keep your local law enforcement agency updated with respect to your whereabouts.42
The length of time that you must register varies, depending on (1) whether you were an adult or minor at the time of your offense, and (2) when you were convicted.43 Failing to register properly subjects you to an additional misdemeanor charge with a county jail sentence of between six (6) months and one (1) year.44
It is important to know that if your conviction was for (1) misdemeanor malicious arson, or (2) misdemeanor possession, manufacturing, or disposing of flammable materials, your California arson defense attorney may be able to help you secure an expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 PC . An expungement under 1203.4 PC relieves you of your duty to register as an arsonist.45
Similarly, if you were convicted of a felony arson charge that requires you to register as an arson offender, your California arson lawyer may be able to help you secure a certificate of rehabilitation. A certificate of rehabilitation also relieves you of your duty to register.46
Because the punishment and penalties for a California arson conviction are so severe, it is critical to secure legal representation from a skilled California criminal defense and arson lawyer. He or she understands the many legal defenses that may cause arson charges or reckless burning charges to be reduced or even dismissed.
The following are examples of some of the most common legal defenses that a California arson defense attorney could present on your behalf.
In order to convict you of arson or reckless burning, the prosecutor must prove that you acted either (1) maliciously, or (2) recklessly.
Thus, arson and reckless burning cases are two of many California crimes where you can use accident as a legal defense. If you can prove that the fire was the result of an accident, you can't be convicted of this charge.
Perhaps you simply forgot to turn off the iron. Perhaps one of your candles "sparked" onto a piece of nearby paper that became ignited.
As San Bernardino criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi explains47 ,
"It's my job effectively to convince the judge and/or jury that a fire that was accidentally started simply went out of control...and that, despite the fact that people or property may have been injured...it was absolutely an unintended, noncriminal act."
That said, if you create the risk...but were unaware of the risk because you were voluntarily intoxicated (that is, drunk or high on drugs as a result of your own actions)...that will not serve as a defense to a California Penal Code 452 PC reckless burning charge.48
Example: Dave and Ted go camping together and build a campfire in a national forest. They drink large amounts of beer and pass out, drunk, before they are able to put out the campfire. The fire spreads overnight and damages acres of forest land.
Dave and Ted may be charged with Penal Code 452 PC reckless burning even though the fire was definitely an accident...because they got drunk voluntarily, and so put themselves in a situation that prevented them from understanding the risk of fire spreading.
Even investigators admit that most arson cases are built on circumstantial evidence. "Circumstantial evidence" indirectly proves a fact...whereas direct evidence directly proves the fact. Some guess work is necessarily involved with circumstantial evidence...and, as a result, it is not as solid as direct evidence.
With respect to a California arson or reckless burning case, there are usually few, if any, witnesses. Fire-starting devices frequently are destroyed in the fire. Unless something can directly tie you to the fire, the prosecutor may not have enough solid evidence to convict you of these offenses.
There are a number of reasons why an individual might falsely accuse you of arson or reckless burning.
Perhaps s/he accidentally started the fire and is afraid to suffer the consequences. Perhaps s/he intentionally started the fire and is trying to cover up his/her own involvement. Perhaps s/he was trying to collect reward money...The possibilities are endless.
Mistaken eyewitness identification leads to lots of false charges for arson in California.
Maybe someone identified an individual that fit your description. Maybe someone saw a car that looked like yours leaving the scene. Maybe some of your belongings were found in the fire...
There are a number of reasons why you may have been mistakenly identified as the individual who set the fire...it's just a matter of persuading the judge and/or jury that you have a good alibi.
While it's true that arson is often committed to hide another crime, as an act of domestic violence, for financial gain, or for a host of other reasons...the bottom line is that this isn't always the case.
Your California arson defense attorney knows how to cross-examine the prosecution's expert witnesses, to effectively challenge the charge that you (1) intentionally (or even recklessly) set a fire, or (2) were even responsible for the incident.
In addition, arson criminal defense lawyers typically rely on their own expert witnesses who know how to explain to a judge and jury that typical "arson indicators" such as
aren't always a reliable way to conclude that arson was the cause of the fire at all.
California murder is the unlawful killing of another person with "malice aforethought" (which means a deliberate intent to kill or a reckless disregard for human life).49 When a murder is committed during the perpetration (or the attempted perpetration) of arson, it is considered first-degree murder .50
First-degree murder subjects you to (1) 25 years to life in prison, (2) life in prison without the possibility of parole, or (3) the death penalty.51
This is the case even if the killing is unintentional, as long as you intentionally committed arson. This is what's known as the California felony-murder rule . 52
The felony-murder rule is how Raymond Lee Oyler (the man convicted of arson for the 2006 Esperanza fire in Riverside County) received the death penalty. Oyler...a reported serial arsonist...ignited the Esperanza wildfire just south of Cabazon in the middle of the night during a Santa Ana windstorm. The fire quickly grew out of control, killing five fireman, livestock, and wildlife, and destroying 54 homes, other structures, and vehicles.
It should be noted that the death penalty is typically difficult to secure in an arson case. This case is more of an anomaly, but demonstrates just how severe an arson conviction can be.
It should finally be noted that if you are specifically convicted of first-degree murder in connection with maliciously setting fire to an inhabited structure or inhabited property...in violation of Penal Code 451(b)...your only two sentence options are (1) life in prison without the possibility of parole, or (2) the death penalty.53
Although most people believe that you commit burglary by "breaking, entering, and stealing," this isn't always the case. Simply put, entering any building with the intent of committing a felony once inside qualifies as California burglary.54
This means that if you enter someone else's structure or property...intending willfully or maliciously to set a fire once inside...prosecutors could charge you with Penal Code 451 arson and Penal Code 459 burglary .
California criminal "trespass" & "trespassing" laws prohibit entering another person's property without permission to do so.56 Put another way, it is an illegal intrusion that interferes with the another person's property rights.
Trespass is different from burglary in that it only requires that you set foot on someone else's land...not that you enter a building.
This means that if you unlawfully enter another person's property
and then either willfully OR recklessly set fire to that property,
you could face charges for both
arson or reckless burning and criminal trespass. In most cases, trespass is a misdemeanor .57
As previously mentioned, you can't be convicted of arson if you burn is your own personal property...UNLESS you set that fire with the intent to commit fraud ).58 This is most commonly seen in connection with insurance fraud.
If you have additional questions about California arson laws, or you would like to discuss your case confidentially with one of our arson defense attorneys, we invite you to contact us.
We have local criminal law offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Orange County, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities to conveniently serve you.
For information on Nevada arson laws, please see our page on Nevada arson laws.
The California Arson Hotline: 1-800-468-4408. Maintained by the California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection's Sacramento law enforcement section, the hotline takes reports of arson and offers rewards to those who provide information about a suspected arsonist.
California Department of Forestry
California state enforcement of arson laws.
Association of Arson Investigators
The IAAC is a national organization supporting law enforcement officers that investigate arson and arson related crimes.
Conference of Arson Investigators
The California Conference of Arson Investigators is an association of arson investigators with over 1000 members. It is the longest running and most active arson enforcement association of its type in the nation.
Committee for Arson Control
National network of insurance agencies working with law enforcement to combat arson in the United States.
1 California Penal Code 451 PC -- Arson of structure, forest land or property; great bodily injury; inhabited structure or property; owned property; punishment [Malicious arson]. ("A person is guilty of 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.")
See also California Penal Code 452 PC -- Unlawfully causing a fire of any structure, forest land or property; great bodily injury; inhabited structure or property; punishment [Reckless arson]. ("A person is guilty of unlawfully causing a fire when he recklessly sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property.")
2 California Penal Code 451 PC – Malicious arson. ("(d) Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years. For purposes of this paragraph, arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is an intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person's structure, forest land, or property.")
See also California Penal Code PC – Reckless arson. ("(d) Unlawfully causing a fire of property is a misdemeanor. For purposes of this paragraph, unlawfully causing a fire of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his own personal property unless there is injury to another person or to another person's structure, forest land or property.")
3 California Penal Code 451 – Malicious arson. ("(a) Arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years. (b) Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years. (c) Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. (d) Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years. For purposes of this paragraph, arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is an intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person's structure, forest land, or property.")
4 Our California criminal defense attorneys have local criminal law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.
5 Under the "Historical and Statutory Note" section in California Penal Code 451 PC – Malicious arson, it states "Former [California Penal Code] § 451, enacted in 1872, defining "burning", was repealed by Stats.1929, c. 25, § 6." Under the credits, it states that the current Penal Code 451 PC was added by statute in 1979.
With the exception of (1) a 1982 amendment that added provisions that an offender who commits arson while incarcerated will serve his/her sentence consecutive to the sentence for which the individual was already confined and 2) a 1986 amendment that raised the maximum state prison sentence to eight years instead of seven for willfully or maliciously starting a fire, the statutes today read very similar to their original forms (see same).
6 California Penal Code 451 PC -- Malicious arson. ("A person is guilty of 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. (a) Arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years. (b) Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years. (c) Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. (d) Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years. For purposes of this paragraph, arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is an intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person's structure, forest land, or property. (e) In the case of any person convicted of violating this section while confined in a state prison, prison road camp, prison forestry camp, or other prison camp or prison farm, or while confined in a county jail while serving a term of imprisonment for a felony or misdemeanor conviction, any sentence imposed shall be consecutive to the sentence for which the person was then confined.")
7 California Penal Code 452 PC -- Unlawfully causing a fire [Reckless arson]. ("A person is guilty of unlawfully causing a fire when he recklessly sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property. (a) Unlawfully causing a fire that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four or six years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine, or by both such imprisonment and fine. (b) Unlawfully causing a fire that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine, or by both such imprisonment and fine. (c) Unlawfully causing a fire of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two or three years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by a fine, or by both such imprisonment and fine. (d) Unlawfully causing a fire of property is a misdemeanor. For purposes of this paragraph, unlawfully causing a fire of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his own personal property unless there is injury to another person or to another person's structure, forest land or property. (e) In the case of any person convicted of violating this section while confined in a state prison, prison road camp, prison forestry camp, or other prison camp or prison farm, or while confined in a county jail while serving a term of imprisonment for a felony or misdemeanor conviction, any sentence imposed shall be consecutive to the sentence for which the person was then confined.")
8 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions ("CALCRIM") 1515 – Simple arson. ("The defendant is charged [in Count ] with arson [in violation of Penal Code section 451(b)]. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that: 1 The defendant set fire to or burned [or (counseled[,]/ [or] helped[,]/ [or] caused) the burning of] (a structure/forest land/property); AND 2 (He/She) acted willfully and maliciously.")
9 See same, Simple arson. ("To set fire to or burn means to damage or destroy with fire either all or part of something, no matter how small the part.")
10 See same, Simple arson. ("[A structure is any (building/bridge/tunnel/power plant/commercial or public tent).]")
11 See same, Simple arson. ("[Forest land means brush-covered land, cut-over land, forest, grasslands, or woods.]")
12 People v. Reese (1986) 182 Cal.App.3d 737, 740. ("...the different levels of punishment for the different types of property suggests a legislative intent to punish the willful and malicious burning of any personal property such as clothing, whether or not being worn at the time of the fire.")
13 CALCRIM 1515, Simple arson. ("[Property means personal property or land other than forest land.]")
14 In re L.T. (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 262, 264-65. ("The trash burned does constitute "property" referred to in the arson statute (§ 451). The Penal Code defines "property" to include "personal property," which, in turn, includes "money, goods, chattels, things in action, and evidences of debt." (§ 7, subds. 10, 12; accord, Civ. Code, § 14, subd. 3.) Trash fits within this definition. "Goods" and "chattels" are things that are "visible, tangible, movable" and are "objects of the senses."")
15 CALCRIM 1515, Simple arson. ("[A person does not commit arson if the only thing burned is his or her own personal property, unless he or she acts with the intent to defraud, or the fire also injures someone else or someone else's structure, forest land, or property.]")
16 See same, Simple arson. ("Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.")
17 See same, Simple arson. ("Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to defraud, annoy, or injure someone else.")
18 CALCRIM 1532 -- Unlawfully causing a fire [Reckless arson/reckless burning]. ("To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:  The defendant set fire to [,] [or] burned [,] [or caused the burning of] (a structure/forest land/property); AND  The defendant did so recklessly.")
19 See same, Reckless arson/reckless burning. ("[A person acts recklessly when (1) he or she is aware that his or her actions present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing a fire, (2) he or she ignores that risk, and (3) ignoring the risk is a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.]")
20 People v. Budish (1982) 131 Cal.App.3d 1043, 1048. ("Assuming arguendo the small campfire was the source of the fire, the unprecedented wind force at the scene was not a factor which the defendant could have reasonably anticipated. Thus his conduct did not amount to a conscious disregard of the risk in making a small contained campfire during the early morning calm of that day. Nor could his act be characterized as a gross deviation from normal standards of conduct in satisfying a normal desire for an early morning hot drink. The defendant's negligent failure to perceive the risk did not amount to reckless conduct.")
21 See Penal Code 451 PC – Malicious arson; Penal Code 452 PC – Reckless arson.
22 California Penal Code 457 PC -- Order for submission to psychiatric or psychological examination. ("Upon conviction of any person for a violation of any provision of this chapter, the court may order that such person, for the purpose of sentencing, submit to a psychiatric or psychological examination.")
23 California Penal Code 452 PC – Reckless arson. ("(d) Unlawfully causing a fire of property is a misdemeanor. For purposes of this paragraph, unlawfully causing a fire of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his own personal property unless there is injury to another person or to another person's structure, forest land or property.")
24 California Penal Code 672 PC -- Offenses for which no fine prescribed; fine authorized in addition to imprisonment. ("Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors [such as misdemeanor reckless arson] or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies, in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.")
25 California Penal Code 452 PC – Reckless arson, subsections (a) – (c).
26 See same, Reckless arson, subsections (a) – (c).
27 California Penal Code 451 PC – Malicious arson, subsections (a) – (d).
28 See California Penal Code 451 PC – Malicious arson. (". (a) Arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years. (b) Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years. (c) Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. (d) Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years.")
See also California Penal Code 452 PC – Reckless arson. ("(a) Unlawfully causing a fire that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four or six years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine, or by both such imprisonment and fine. (b) Unlawfully causing a fire that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine, or by both such imprisonment and fine. (c) Unlawfully causing a fire of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two or three years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by a fine, or by both such imprisonment and fine.")
29 California Penal Code 455 PC – Attempts [to commit arson]; acts preliminary or in furtherance; punishment; attempt to burn defined. ("Any person who willfully and maliciously attempts to set fire to or attempts to burn or to aid, counsel or procure the burning of any structure, forest land or property, or who commits any act preliminary thereto, or in furtherance thereof, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two or three years. The placing or distributing of any flammable, explosive or combustible material or substance, or any device in or about any structure, forest land or property in an arrangement or preparation with intent to eventually willfully and maliciously set fire to or burn same, or to procure the setting fire to or burning of the same shall, for the purposes of this act constitute an attempt to burn such structure, forest land or property.")
30 California Penal Code 672 PC -- Offenses for which no fine prescribed; fine authorized in addition to imprisonment. ("Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies [such as felony arson or felony reckless burning], in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.")
See also California Penal Code 456 PC -- Fine upon felony conviction [for arson]; fine based upon pecuniary gain; amounts. ("(a) Upon conviction for any felony violation of this chapter [California arson laws], in addition to the penalty prescribed, the court may impose a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) unless a greater amount is provided by law. (b) When any person is convicted of a violation of any provision of this chapter and the reason he committed the violation was for pecuniary gain, in addition to the penalty prescribed and instead of the fine provided in subdivision (a), the court may impose a fine of twice the anticipated or actual gross gain.")
31 California Penal Code 1192.7 PC – California three strikes law. ("(c) As used in this section, "serious felony" means any of the following: . . . (14) arson.")
32 California Penal Code 452.1 PC -- Aggravated arson; sentence enhancements; circumstances. ("(a) Notwithstanding any other law, any person who is convicted of a felony violation of [Penal Section] Section 452 PC [reckless arson] shall be punished by a one-, two-, or three-year enhancement for each of the following circumstances that is found to be true: (1) The defendant has been previously convicted of a felony violation of [Penal Code] Section 451 or 452. (2) A firefighter, peace officer, or other emergency personnel suffered great bodily injury as a result of the offense. The additional term provided by this subdivision shall be imposed whenever applicable, including any instance in which there is a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 452. (3) The defendant proximately caused great bodily injury to more than one victim in any single violation of Section 452. The additional term provided by this subdivision shall be imposed whenever applicable, including any instance in which there is a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 452. (4) The defendant proximately caused multiple structures to burn in any single violation of [California Penal Code] Section 452 [PC "reckless arson"]. (b) The additional term specified in subdivision (a) of Section 452.1 shall not be imposed unless the existence of any fact required under this section shall be alleged in the accusatory pleading and either admitted by the defendant in open court or found to be true by the trier of fact.")
See also California Penal Code 451.1 PC -- Arson; sentence enhancements; circumstances. ("(a) Notwithstanding any other law, any person who is convicted of a felony violation of [Penal Code] Section 451 PC [malicious arson] shall be punished by a three-, four-, or five-year enhancement if one or more of the following circumstances is found to be true: (1) The defendant has been previously convicted of a felony violation of [Penal Code] Section 451 or 452 PC. (2) A firefighter, peace officer, or other emergency personnel suffered great bodily injury as a result of the offense. The additional term provided by this subdivision shall be imposed whenever applicable, including any instance in which there is a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 451. (3) The defendant proximately caused great bodily injury to more than one victim in any single violation of Section 451. The additional term provided by this subdivision shall be imposed whenever applicable, including any instance in which there is a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 451. (4) The defendant proximately caused multiple structures to burn in any single violation of [California Penal Code] Section 451 PC [arson]. (5) The defendant committed arson as described in subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of Section 451 and the arson was caused by use of a device designed to accelerate the fire or delay ignition. (b) The additional term specified in subdivision (a) shall not be imposed unless the existence of any fact required under this section shall be alleged in the accusatory pleading and either admitted by the defendant in open court or found to be true by the trier of fact.")
33 California Penal Code 1170.78 PC -- Arson; retaliation against owner or occupant; aggravation of crime. ("Upon a conviction of a violation of [Penal Code] Section 451 [PC California arson law], the fact that the person committed the offense in retaliation against the owner or occupant of the property or structure burned, or against one believed by the person to be the owner or occupant of the property or structure burned, for any eviction or other legal action taken by the owner or occupant, or believed owner or occupant, shall be a circumstance in aggravation of the crime in imposing a term under subdivision (b) of Section 1170.")
34 California Penal Code 1170.8 PC -- Arson, robbery, or assault in places of worship; aggravation of crime. ("(b) Upon conviction of any person for a violation of [Penal Code] Section 451 or 453 [PC under California arson law], the fact that the person intentionally burned, or intended to burn, a church, synagogue, or building owned and occupied by a religious educational institution, or any other place primarily used as a place of worship where religious services are regularly conducted, shall be considered a circumstance in aggravation of the crime in imposing a term under subdivision (b) of [Penal Code] Section 1170.")
35 California Penal Code 451.5 PC -- Aggravated arson; factors; punishment. ("(a) Any person who willfully, maliciously, deliberately, with premeditation, and with intent to cause injury to one or more persons or to cause damage to property under circumstances likely to produce injury to one or more persons or to cause damage to one or more structures or inhabited dwellings, sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned, or aids, counsels, or procures the burning of any residence, structure, forest land, or property is guilty of aggravated arson if one or more of the following aggravating factors exists: (1) The defendant has been previously convicted of arson on one or more occasions within the past 10 years. (2)(A) The fire caused property damage and other losses in excess of five million six hundred fifty thousand dollars ($5,650,000). (B) In calculating the total amount of property damage and other losses under subparagraph (A), the court shall consider the cost of fire suppression. It is the intent of the Legislature that this paragraph be reviewed within five years to consider the effects of inflation on the dollar amount stated herein. For that reason, this paragraph shall remain in effect until January 1, 2010, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, which is enacted before January 1, 2010, deletes or extends that date. (3) The fire caused damage to, or the destruction of, five or more inhabited structures. (b) Any person who is convicted under subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 10 years to life. (c) Any person who is sentenced under subdivision (b) shall not be eligible for release on parole until 10 calendar years have elapsed.")
36 California Penal Code 1203.06 PC -- Probation or suspension of execution or imposition of sentence prohibited for certain crimes [including aggravated arson]; allegations of ineligibility. ("(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, probation shall not be granted to, nor shall the execution or imposition of sentence be suspended for, nor shall a finding bringing the defendant within this section be stricken pursuant to [Penal Code] Section 1385 for, any of the following persons: . . . (3) Aggravated arson, in violation of [California Penal Code] Section 451.5 PC.
37 CALCRIM 1500 -- Aggravated arson. ("[A (dwelling/ [or] structure) is inhabited if someone lives there and either is present or has left but intends to return.] [A (dwelling/ [or] structure) is inhabited if someone used it as a dwelling and left only because a natural or other disaster caused him or her to leave.] [A (dwelling/ [or] structure) is not inhabited if the former residents have moved out and do not intend to return, even if some personal property remains inside.]")
38 See same.
39 People v. Green (1983) 146 Cal.App.3d 369, 379. ("Viewed in this context, the words "inhabited structure" in [Penal Code] section 451(b) [arson law] must be read together; any other interpretation produces an absurd result. Appellant was convicted of "arson of an inhabited structure" because he started a fire in a large apartment building, thus endangering the lives of all of the building's occupants. Yet he argues in effect that the timely departure of his estranged wife makes his act less blameworthy. This is contrary to public policy and contrary to what the Legislature intended when it enacted section 451 [California's arson law].")
40 California Penal Code 457.1 PC -- Arson and attempted arson; persons convicted of arson; registration while residing California [Registration after arson conviction]. This Penal Code section specifically addresses the variety of conditions that are imposed in connection with registering as a California convicted arsonist.
41 California Penal Code 290 PC -- The Sex Offender Registration Act. If you are convicted of certain sex crimes, California law requires you to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code 290. This code sets forth the requirements for registration, as well as a list of the specific offenses that require this lifetime registration requirement.
42 California Penal Code 475.1 PC – Registration after arson conviction.
43 See same, Registration after arson conviction.
44 See same, Registration after arson conviction. ("(h) Any person required to register under this section who violates any of the provisions thereof is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person who has been convicted of arson or attempted arson and who is required to register under this section who willfully violates any of the provisions thereof is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be sentenced to serve a term of not less than 90 days nor more than one year in a county jail. In no event does the court have the power to absolve a person who willfully violates this section from the obligation of spending at least 90 days of confinement in a county jail and of completing probation of at least one year.")
45 See same, Registration after arson conviction. ("(l) Nothing in this section shall be construed to conflict with [California Penal Code] Section 1203.4 concerning termination of probation and release from penalties and disabilities of probation. A person required to register under this section may initiate a proceeding under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 and, upon obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation, shall be relieved of any further duty to register under this section. This certificate shall not relieve the petitioner of the duty to register under this section for any offense subject to this section of which he or she is convicted in the future. Any person who is required to register under this section due to a misdemeanor conviction shall be relieved of the requirement to register if that person is granted relief pursuant to [California Penal Code] Section 1203.4.")
46 See same, Registration after arson conviction.
47 San Bernardino criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi represents clients accused of California arson charges...as well as all other criminal offenses...in San Bernardino and Riverside County courthouses, including the Murrieta Southwest Justice Center and courthouses in Fontana, Banning, Barstow, Palm Springs, and Joshua Tree.
48 CALCRIM 1532 – Reckless arson/reckless burning. ("[A person acts recklessly when (1) he or she does an act that presents a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing a fire but (2) he or she is unaware of the risk because he or she is voluntarily intoxicated. Intoxication is voluntary if the person willingly used any intoxicating drink, drug, or other substance knowing that it could produce an intoxicating effect.]")
49 California Penal Code 187 PC -- Murder, defined [may be charged along with arson]. ("(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.") See also CALCRIM 520 -- Murder with malice aforethought. ("The defendant acted with express malice if (he/she) unlawfully intended to kill. The defendant acted with implied malice if:  (He/She) intentionally committed an act;  The natural and probable consequences of the act were dangerous to human life;  At the time (he/she) acted, (he/she) knew (his/her) act was dangerous to human life; AND  (He/She) deliberately acted with conscious disregard for (human/ [or] fetal) life.")
50 California Penal Code 189 PC -- Murder; degrees. ("All murder which is perpetrated by means of a destructive device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, knowing use of ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor, poison, lying in wait, torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or which is committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson...is murder of the first degree.")
51 California Penal Code 190 PC -- Punishment for murder. ("(a) Every person guilty of murder in the first degree [including murder committed through arson] shall be punished by death, imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life.")
52 California Jury Instructions - Criminal 8.21 – Felony-murder rule. ("The unlawful killing of a human being, whether intentional, unintentional or accidental, which occurs during the commission or attempted commission of the crime of [arson] is murder of the first degree when the perpetrator had the specific intent to commit that crime.")
53 California Penal Code 190.2 PC -- Death penalty or life imprisonment without parole; special circumstances. ("(a) The penalty for a defendant who is found guilty of murder in the first degree is death or imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole if one or more of the following special circumstances has been found under [Penal Code] Section 190.4 to be true: . . . (17) The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in, or was an accomplice in, the commission of, attempted commission of, or the immediate flight after committing, or attempting to commit, the following felonies: . . . (H) Arson in violation of subdivision (b) of [California Penal Code] Section 451.")
54 California Penal Code 459 PC-- Burglary, defined. ("Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony [including California felony arson] is guilty of burglary.")
55 See California Penal Code 460 PC; California Penal Code 461 PC.
56 California Penal Code 602 PC – Criminal trespass [may be charged along with arson]. ("Except as provided in paragraph (2) of subdivision (v), subdivision (x), and Section 602.8, every person who willfully commits a trespass by any of the following acts is guilty of a misdemeanor: . . . (k) Entering any lands, whether unenclosed or enclosed by fence, for the purpose of injuring any property or property rights or with the intention of interfering with, obstructing, or injuring any lawful business or occupation carried on by the owner of the land, the owner's agent or by the person in lawful possession.")
57 See same, Criminal trespass [may be charged along with arson].
58 California Penal Code 451 PC – Malicious arson. ("(d) Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years. For purposes of this paragraph, arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is an intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person's structure, forest land, or property.")
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