Los Angeles Arson Defense Lawyers
There are few crimes taken as seriously in California as arson. With the memories of intense forest fires fresh in the court’s mind, you will be unlikely to find any sympathy if you are been charged with arson. That, however, does not mean you should resign yourself to being charged with a felony and being stuck in prison for the next five years. With an expert legal defense, it is very possible that you may not face any penalties at all.
There are few as passionate about providing a strong legal defense to those charged with criminal offenses than those of us at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. We are prepared to go to bat for our clients, fighting tooth and nail to get them the best possible outcome. If you or a loved one have been charged with arson, then you need a helping hand. Call our firm at (213) 688-0460 to get some of the best legal help in Los Angeles.
You may have heard arson mentioned on the news or at the center of a crime drama, but never truly known what being charged with such a crime actually meant. Legally speaking in California, arson is when someone purposefully and maliciously sets fire to any structure, forest, land, or property. However, you can also be charged with reckless burning, as in you negligently, rather than purposefully, set a fire.
While the image of someone setting a building on fire might be the first that pops into your head at the mention of arson, there are many ways that someone could be charged with this crime. For example, you set fire to someone’s garden as an act of revenge and, while no one was hurt and no buildings burned down, it would still be considered an act of arson.
Speaking of people being hurt, among the crimes associated with arson, manslaughter and murder are some of the most common. Fires are, obviously, incredibly deadly. Even an accidental fire could kill someone, which may result in an arson and a manslaughter charge for the person who accidentally set the fire.
California is known for its wildfires. It seems the number of fires in the state goes up every year, with each new fire being more devastating than the last. Due to this, California courts take arson charges very seriously, especially if said charges resulted in a forest fire. You could be charged with arson even if you started the fire completely accidentally. For example, if you were hiking and you dropped a lit cigarette on the ground, and that cigarette went on to start a wildfire, then you could still be facing the same penalties than if you purposefully set someone’s house on fire.
Wildfires in California often result in extreme property damage, environmental devastation, and the destruction of people’s lives. Whether the fire was accidental or not may not matter at all to the court. In fact, there is a more specific charge of “Arson Causing Damage to Structures or Forest Land” that you would likely be charged with. Such a conviction is a felony and is punishable by up to six years in prison.
As we already said, California courts take fires and arson incredibly seriously, as one person’s mistake could easily cost the state millions in property damage and wages for firefighters. That means an arson conviction is likely to result in very serious penalties. However, the exact penalties you may face for arson will depend on the type of property you damaged, similar to how setting a forest on fire will result in a very specific charge.
For the destruction of personal property, you may face:
- Between 16 months to 3 years in prison
For setting an inhabited structure or inhabited property on fire, your penalties may be:
- Between 3 and 8 years in prison
As we already stated, setting a forest on fire will result in:
- Between 2 to 6 years in prison
If the fire you allegedly set caused someone else great bodily injury, then you could be facing:
- Between 5 to 9 years in prison
Any kind of arson is considered a felony in California. That means that even after you do your time in prison and pay any accompanying fines, you will still face serious consequences. American felons lose many rights that you may have assumed you would have for your entire life. Losing these rights not only strips you of opportunities, but it can also make your day-to-day experiences much more difficult. As a felon, you cannot:
- Own a firearm
- Travel outside the US
- Be employed by government agencies
On top of that, many felons experience the horror of losing their children. The court system takes a vested interest in making sure that children are given the best possible upbringing, and this includes limiting their exposure to potentially corrupting or dangerous individuals. Convicted felons fall within that category. Constructing a strong defense may be your only chance to get the opportunity to raise your children, see the world, or even vote.
As arson charges are so serious, the prosecution may be willing to throw every possible argument and scrap of evidence at you to get the jury on their side. In order to counteract their efforts, you will need the best possible legal defense, which the attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can provide. In our experience, the best defenses against arson charges are:
- You are not the one who set the fire, and your identity was mistaken
- The fire was a natural occurrence and not set by you
- The fire was set by accident and not willfully
- In the case that you are accused of burning your own personal property, there was no intent to commit insurance fraud
- You were arrested unlawfully
- The evidence was gathered unlawfully and therefore not usable in court
Determining the right defense for your case will depend on the exact nature of your alleged crimes, as well as the skill of your attorney. A public defender can be given to you by the court, but they are often over-worked. It is likely that your public defender will barely have time to read your case all the way through, let alone investigate the scenario around your arrest. For an excellent defense, you need an excellent attorney with proven case results.
Facing a criminal trial alone can be one of the scariest moments of your life. You don’t know whether you will be convicted or acquitted, but you do know there is a chance you will be placed behind bars. By working with a Los Angeles violent crime defense attorney from Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, you can put some of those fears to rest. We are experts in our field and fiercely passionate about defending those facing serious criminal charges. For top-notch legal aid, call our firm at (213) 688-0460.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.