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    California Arson Law – Can I Be Charged for an Accidental Fire?

    Posted on: February 17th, 2023 by Dod Law

    Arson LawCalifornia Arson Law

    California is a state known for its wildfire season. Unfortunately, this means that the Golden State is also no stranger to arson-related crimes. While the majority of house and nature fires are accidental in nature, it’s important to understand the regulations and laws associated with California arson laws.  Learn more about California’s arson law. 

    In some cases, an accidental fire can lead to criminal charges. If you have been charged for starting an accidental fire, contact us at Dod Law, APC today. We will make sure you are supported every step of the way during the legal process.

    Accidental Fire and Arson Charges – California Arson Law

    According to Penal Code 451, arson is defined as willfully or maliciously setting fire to a structure, forest land, or property of another person. This also includes burning one’s own property for fraudulent reasons, such as insurance fraud. 

    California Penal Code 452 defines an accidental fire as any fire that is not caused by an act of arson. However, criminal charges can still be filed if the fire was started by gross negligence or due to reckless behavior. Moreover, in order for criminal charges to be brought against you, the fire must have resulted in the accidental, and unintentional, harm of another person.

    It is also important to note that some circumstances don’t meet the criteria for arson but may still result in criminal charges. For instance, if you have an unsafe campfire, dispose of fireworks improperly, or fail to properly extinguish a cigarette which then causes harm to property or people, you can still be charged with a crime.

    Consequences of Accidental Fire and Arson Charges in California

    The consequences of an accidental fire charge depend on the degree of negligence involved. For example, a misdemeanor reckless burning charge can result in up to four years in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.

    On the other hand, a felony arson charge can result in up to nine years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. In addition, if the fire caused great bodily injury or death, you can be charged with aggravated arson, a crime that can sentence you to 15 or more years in prison.

    What You Can Do to Avoid Accidental Fire Charges

    Although it may appear that you don’t have much control over avoiding arson and accidental fire-related charges, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. First, practice fire safety by being aware of your surroundings and taking appropriate precautions. Always check for sources of ignition and make sure that flammable materials are stored and disposed of properly. 

    It’s also important to keep your property insured in the event of an accidental fire. This can help cover the damage and minimize financial losses. Finally, if you do find yourself facing criminal charges for an accidental fire, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer right away. They can help you understand the charges against you and fight for your rights in court.

    By understanding California arson laws and taking the necessary steps to prevent accidental fires, you can reduce your risk of being charged with a crime. Even if an accidental fire does occur, you can protect yourself by following the steps outlined here. 

    Contact a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney at Dod Law, APC

    If you have been charged with arson or an accidental fire in California, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney, like our team at Dod Law, APC, on your side. We have over 18 years of experience and are here to help protect your rights and fight for your best interests. 

    Get in touch with us today by calling (619) 814-5110 or filling out and submitting our contact form to schedule a free case review. We will walk you through every step of the legal process and make sure your rights are protected.

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