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I’ve Been Charged with Felony Arson. What Should I Do?

Crime scene tape against a backdrop of police lights and a car accident scene.

Recently, a man in Lompoc was sentenced to five years in state prison for committing felony arson. According to the Santa Barbara News-Press, the arson, which is considered a violent felony, involved the man setting fire to a mental health clinic in Lompoc while people were inside.

The incident began with the man assaulting staff members at the clinic. After that, he set fire to the clinic. When police arrived, the man threw a large piece of wood at them. He didn’t hit the officers with the lumber, but it did strike their patrol car. Law enforcement proceeded to order the man to lie down. He disobeyed their orders, threw another piece of wood at them, ran inside the clinic, and shut the door behind him.

Officers could hear people inside the clinic yelling that it was on fire. They forced their way into the building and ordered the man to lie down again. This time he obeyed their orders, and they took him into custody.

From there, the clinic was evacuated. Police officers knocked down flames from the fire until firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze. The fire caused around $10,000 in damage.

The man reportedly was combative with officers after he was taken into the custody, even allegedly kicking an officer in the head when police took him to the hospital for treatment. In addition to arson of an inhabited dwelling, he was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, felony resisting, felony vandalism, and criminal threats. As a part of his sentence, he had to register as an arsonist.

Punishments for a Felony Arson Conviction in California

The punishments for arson in California often depend on the circumstances of the situation, such as if the building set on fire was occupied or not. However, no matter the situation, the penalties for an arson conviction can be severe, including:

  • Up to nine years in state prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

If the fire leads to a death, an arson conviction can result in life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If you or a loved one is charged with felony arson, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to examine your case, formulate a defense strategy, and give you your best opportunity to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed.

For more information about felony arson in California, or to discuss you situation with our experienced arson defense attorneys at Appel & Morse, call us at (805) 467-6060 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.

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