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Articles Posted in Arson

As several dangerous fires rage in California, fire authorities are investigating: Is the fire a result of natural causes (such as a lightning strike), or an external accident or negligence (for instance, a downed power line), or is the fire a result of an intentional act? If a fire is started by an intentional act, it is the crime of arson(Penal Code section 451). If the fire is started by an act of negligence or recklessness, it is a form of criminal arson (Penal Code section 452) that is not punished as severely as intentional arson, although it can become a much more serious crime if someone is injured or dies as a result of the fire. Whether the fire is intentionally set or is a result of negligence, the act of arson always carries with it the hazard that the fire will injure or kill someone.

You probably remember the Holy Fire in Cleveland National Forest last year. In that historic fire, over 23 thousand acres spanning Riverside and Orange Counties burned and 18 structures were destroyed. The Holy Fire is alleged to have been started by a man who is charged with intentionally starting fires in areas around cabins in Holy Jim Canyon, where he also lived. Reportedly, he had ongoing feuds with folks in neighboring cabins.  He may have only intended to disturb (or destroy) his neighbor’s cabins, not to burn 23 thousand acres of forest land, but because his act of starting the fires was (allegedly) intentional, he is charged with intentionally setting the Holy Fire. He in being held in Orange County jail on $1-million bail awaiting jury trial. If someone had died as a consequence of the fire, he would also face murderor manslaughtercharges.

And that is just what the California Attorney General has advised if Pacific Gas & Electric is found responsible for the Paradise Fire in 2018. Eighty-six lives were lost in the Paradise Fire. PG&E didn’t intentionally start those fires, but the allegations are that the fires were started by PG&E’s “reckless operation” of power equipment. You might wonder how a company could be charged with murder. It does seem unlikely, but it has happened before. Those old enough to remember, may recall the Ford Pinto explosion that killed three people in Indiana. It was claimed that Ford was negligent in its design of the vehicle’s gas tank, causing the explosion. Ford Motor Co. was indicted by the Indiana Grand Jury on three counts of reckless homicide. Ultimately, Ford was acquitted after a jury trial.

LAWYER, LAWYER, YOUR PANTS ARE ON FIRE

In what must have been a bizarre spectacle in a Florida court, a defense attorney, while delivering his closing argument in an arson case, started fiddling with his back pocket and had to run out of the courtroom when smoke started billowing out of the pocket. Yes, the attorney defending an arson case found himself on fire. Incredibly, the attorney was in the middle of arguing in his closing statements that the defendant didn’t commit arson; rather, his car spontaneously caught on fire. And then right before the jurors’ eyes, the attorney’s pocket seemed to spontaneously catch on fire. The attorney returned to court wearing his now singed pants.

Sounds awfully suspicious to me but the attorney maintains that it was not a gimmick. Apparently, the attorney did have an e-cigarette in his back pocket and he blamed a faulty battery in the e-cigarette for the mishap. Despite the attorney’s denial that the pocket fire was planned, police and prosecutors are investigating the incident. Court officers seized the frayed e-cigarette batteries as evidence. There have been reports that e-cigarettes caught on fire and several of these incidents have even been recorded on video. So, maybe this was just an uncanny coincidence.

On Tuesday night, detectives were conducting surveillance of the Orange County Church of Christ in Irvine in the 100 block of Goodyear. Detectives noticed Izad Chavoshan putting a trash can near the front door of the church and lighting the contents on fire. They then noticed him lighting scraps of paper on fire and then trying to put the burning paper through the church door. Detectives stopped him, searched him and arrested him for suspicion of arson. They found matches on him and lighter fluid in his car. Detectives are looking into four separate similar arson attempts and think that Chavoshan was a member of the church at one time but became disenchanted due to philosophical differences.

Arson
is the act of intentionally and maliciously setting fire to property, land, business or a residential building. Penalties can range anywhere from no jail time to almost 10 years in prison, depending on the severity of the damage. Whether you live in Newport Beach, Mission Viejo or Fullerton, if you are charged with arson, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Your attorney may be able to help lower your charges or sentence.

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The Los Angeles Station Fire that started a couple of weeks ago, was just ruled to be an arson fire. Officers are looking for the arsonist who they think matches the profile of a typical arsonist: a while male between 15-25 years old who set the fire out of revenge. The Station Fire has burned about 230 square miles, burned down 60 homes and killed two firefighters. The California governor has authorized a $100,000 reward to any person that turns in the arsonist. Once this arsonist is caught, he will be charged with murder and arson and will likely face the death penalty.

Humans are the number one cause of fires in Southern California. In 2008, humans caused over 5,000 wildfires, which was the highest number in years. Arsonists are hard to catch though because they rarely come back to the scene of the crime and normally burn areas that are not commonly populated or recorded on surveillance cameras. Whether you live in Anaheim, Laguna Beach or Orange, if are charged with arson, you will need an experienced defense attorney to assist you.

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