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Defending an Arson Charge in California


As you might guess, arson charges are quite serious and defending them is going to take a good strategy that makes sense related to the surrounding facts in the charging document and the police reports.  For example, if the argument is that somebody didn’t actually light the fire related to an arson case in Los Angeles, then you’re going to want to bring witnesses or attack witnesses’ credibility that are claiming that person did light the fire.

Arson Charges in California include:

California Penal Code Section 451 – Arson
California Penal Code Section 451.5 – Aggravated Arson
California Penal Code Section 452 – Reckless Burning

So, first you have to see what is the evidence that establishes that the client actually was involved in the arson case.  Is it their own statement?  Is it the statement of another?  Are there witnesses?  That’s a crucial determinant factor when you’re trying to decide how you’re going to start your defense related to an arson case.  You’re going to want to know right from the beginning exactly what evidence there is that the police and prosecutors are going to rely on to attempt to prove the case against you.

If the evidence is eye witness evidence, there’s one way to handle that.  If the evidence is some sort of forensic evidence — DNA or some other sort of evidence — there’s ways to handle that as well.  So, once we determine exactly what evidence is going to be utilized in trying to prove the case against you, then we can really get a feel for whether you have a defense or not.

Some cases you have a defense; some cases you don’t.  If you don’t have a defense, then we’re going to start trying to mitigate the situation — figure out why the arson occurred, what the damages were and really try to differentiate your arson case from those arson cases where people are sent to prison for long periods of time.  This is crucial, because obviously, nobody want to be sent to prison for a long period of time.

How Much Damage Was Caused By Arson?

Another factor is how much damage was caused by the arson?  Obviously, the more money or more property that’s lost — if there’s life lost — that’s going to be a determining factor on exactly what type of arson charges are filed and how seriously and viciously the prosecutors will pursue the arson-related offense.

So, if you’ve got an arson case in Los Angeles, what I have you do is you come in and we sit down and talk confidentially and we make some strategy decision right from the beginning about whether we’re going to fight the case, about whether we’re going to file motions on the case, or whether this is a case that needs to be negotiated through a plea bargain.  Once we make that decision, then you’re going to know exactly what you need to do as the client and the defendant in the case to help me.

You’re going to have an idea of what type of a plan I’m going to execute related to your case, whether we’re going to get character letters, whether we’re going to be talking to witnesses, and exactly how we’re going to approach the prosecutors when we go to court and try to defend you for this arson case.  Even though they may have the evidence to prove you guilty, you’re still entitled to defend yourself.  You’re still entitled to mitigate the charges against you for the least possible charges you can, and obviously, you have every right to try to avoid going to county jail or prison, and try to protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.

So, pick up the phone today.  Make the call to our California criminal defense lawyers and I can help you out with your arson-related offense, to deal with it as smoothly as possible.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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