The criminal act of willfully and malicious burning or charring property or structure belonging to another is called arson. California separates arson into distinct categories depending on circumstances such as injuries or types of property damage.
A person can be charged with aggravated arson if:
- The defendant has a previous arson conviction within the last 10 years
- The defendant set fire that causes damage to five or more structures with people living inside
- The fire caused more than $6.5 million in damage
What Does It Mean When an Aggravated Arson Charged is Enhanced?
A sentence enhancement occurs when a judge gives a more severe punishment than the original sentence suggest. In California, when the criminal charge is enhanced, the person faces more punishment in addition to the criminal charge. For example, a defendant can be charged with aggravating arson enhancement when the defendant:
- Has a pervious arson conviction
- Set a fire that caused great bodily injury to a first responder
- Set a fire to multiple structures
- Set a fire that caused great bodily harm to another person
- Used a time delay device to set a fire
- Used accelerant to set a fire
Can Aggravated Arson Make Me Ineligible for Probation?
The judge may decide to make an offender ineligible for probation if the defendant set fire to a place of worship or set fire in retaliation against the owner or occupier of the property or structure.
How Much Time in Prison Can I Get for An Aggravated Arson Charge?
It’s 10 years to life with no opportunity for probation. Any enhancement penalty can add three to five years to a prison sentence.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Yes, contact a criminal lawyer to help you with your arson charge.