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    What is Arson?

    Arson is a willful act in which a person maliciously burns or causes to burn a property. Arson crimes vary in their seriousness and degree of damage. Any act of maliciously or recklessly burning or charring of a property is pursued as a criminal offense in state of California.

    What Are Common Arson Crimes?

    Arson and reckless burning is an extensive term and covers all the different types of burning of property, land, forest or boat. However, the common arson offenses are as follow,

    • Setting one’s own property on fire with fraudulent intent such as to claim insurance money.
    • Setting a property or land on fire for which you do not own any ownership rights.
    • Setting fire to forests.
    • Setting fire to agricultural land.
    • Setting fire to a public structure
    • Setting fire to an inhabited property

    CA Penal Code 451, 452

    The California Penal code 451 and 452 highlighted the arson and reckless burning offense and describe penalties for these offenses.

    PC 451: “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.”

    PC 452: “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.”

    According to PC 451, 452, both arson and reckless burning are charged as felony and are punishable by law. In both arson and reckless burning cases, there is an important role of intent. What is the intent of the person when setting the property on fire? The arson or reckless burning charges are proven only if the person had malicious intent or recklessly set fire to property or structure.

    Investigation of Arson

    Arson or reckless burning is investigated by special forensic officers through a range of physical and chemical tests. The investigators collect evidences from the site through physical examination as well as chemical tests to determine the cause of fire and identify the persons of interest. Therefore, the investigation of arson is a highly specialized field with forensic evidences to prove the charges.

    If you or your loved one is fighting arson charges, you need immediate help of an experienced and knowledgeable defense lawyer. It is not enough to hire a lawyer with knowledge of laws, but you should hire someone that understand the complexity and nature of the arson or reckless burning case.

    At the law office of David S. Chesley, we have a team of former investigators and prosecutors that understand the science and technicalities of an arson case. Our aggressive defense representation focuses on loopholes in the investigation and insufficiency of evidence. We have dealt with hundreds of arson cases in our life as defendants and former prosecutors and our experience reflects itself in our success rate and satisfied clients.

    Penalties of Arson Charges

    The penalties for ‘malicious’ arson charges are

    Setting fire to another’s property: up to 3 years in prison

    Setting fire to forest land: up to 6 years in prison

    Setting fire to an inhabited structure: up to 8 years in prison

    Serious bodily injury as a result of arson: up to 9 years in prison


    The penalties for “reckless” charges arson in California can include:

    Setting fire to another’s property: up to 1 years in county jail

    Setting fire to forest land: up to 3 years in prison

    Setting fire to an inhabited structure: up to 4 years in prison

    Serious bodily injury as a result of arson: up to 6 years in prison


    Enhancement of Arson Charges

    California penal code imposes strict penalties for arson charges in the state. Arson penalties can be enhanced from three to five years in presence of following conditions,

    • Previous record of arson conviction.
    • Fire caused great bodily injury to an emergency personnel or a firefighter.
    • If there are more than one victim as a result of fire
    • You set multiple structures to fire.
    • You used a device designed to accelerate the fire or delay ignition.

    Seek A Professional Legal Representation

    If you are facing arson charges, you can immediately consult the law office of David S. Chesley and seek legal representation. Our aggressive approach to defense will help you in successfully fighting the charges.

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    Domestic Violence

    Domestic violence is one of the most commonly reported in California and every year hundreds and thousands of domestic crime cases are registered.

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    Assault and battery are often charged together, but these are not interchangeable criminal offenses.

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    Assault with a Deadly Weapon

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    A criminal threat is often referred as ‘terrorist threat’ in California even though the statute no longer uses this term to define the offense.

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    Unlawful Possession of a Firearm is strictly illegal.

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    • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

    • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

    • Client’s estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

    • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client’s glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

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