Arson is defined as the willful and malicious burning of a structure, forest land, or property.
Arson that causes serious injury to a person is a felony punishable by five, seven, or nine years in prison.
Arson that causes an inhabited structure, such as someone's house, or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by three, five, or eight years in prison.
Arson of a structure, such as a commercial building, or forest land is a felony punishable by two, four, or six years in prison.
Any other arson is a felony punishable sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison.
If there are certain factors present in a case, such as multiple persons being injured by the fire, multiple structures being burned, or significant amount of damage, they may increase the punishment up to life in prison.
Under California law, all arsons are considered "serious" felonies and are therefore "strikes" under the Three Strikes Law. In some instances, an arson charge may be reduced to the lesser charge of "reckless burning" which requires lesser punishment and is not considered a "strike".
In most trials for arson, the prosecutor will call an arson investigator as an "expert" to testify to his opinion that a fire was an arson. In order to successfully defend against an arson charge at trial, it is crucial for the defense attorney to have the knowledge and experience in arson cases to effectively cross-examine the "expert". In many cases, the opinion of the arson investigator is the only way the prosecutor can prove that a fire was an arson. An effective defense attorney knows how to challenge the basis for this opinion so that the jury does not take the statements of the "expert" without questioning whether the statements are credible or not.
Our attorney, Christian Kim spent part of his career with the Orange County District Attorney's Office assigned to the Special Prosecutions Unit. Part of his duties in that unit was to prosecute arson cases. In fact, while assigned to that unit, Mr. Kim was responsible for handling all arson cases in Orange County. As a result, he has gained specialized knowledge and experience in cases involving arson which he now uses to provide quality representation to his clients who have been accused of arson.
If you have been charged with arson, contact the Law Offices of Christian Kim to speak to an attorney who has the experience needed to provide you with the best possible defense.