Arson Defense Attorney | Orange County

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What is Arson?

Arson occurs when a person intentionally sets fire or helps another person set fire to a structure, forest land, or property. This is a very serious crime in Orange County, California, and carries significant legal consequences. If you are charged with arson, your life and freedom are at stake, so it is extremely important for you to speak with the skilled defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich with over 40 years of experience successfully defending numerous clients charged with arson in Southern California. 

Under California Penal Code 451 in order to find you guilty of arson, the prosecution must prove two elements: 

  • You set fire to or counseled, helped, or caused the burning of a structure, forest land, or property.
  •  You acted willfully and maliciously.

Aggravated arson is an even more serious crime that could potentially result in spending life behind bars. Under California Penal Code Section 451.5, the prosecutor must prove three elements:

  • You acted willfully, maliciously, deliberately, and with premeditation.
  • You intentionally acted to injure one or more people or damage property that was likely to injure one or more people or to damage one or more structures or inhabited dwellings. 
  • The fire caused property damage and other losses of over $5,650,000, or the fire damaged five or more inhabited structures.

If you are facing arson charges in Orange County, California, there is no time to delay. Choose an experienced arson defense lawyer that will fight for your rights and freedom. Contact Wallin & Klarich today for your free consultation. 

Arson Punishments & Sentencing | What You’re Facing

If you are convicted of arson in Southern California, you face life-altering consequences. Under California Penal Code Section 451, there are several types of arson crimes. The legal penalties for each vary depending on the circumstances and the resulting charges you face. The different types of arson and their respective punishments are outlined below: 

Arson of a Structure or Forest Land | PC 451(c)


  • two, four, or six years in the California state prison 

Arson of Private Property | PC 451(d)


  • Imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years.

Arson that Causes Great Bodily Harm | PC 451(a)


  • five, seven, or nine years in the California state prison. 

Aggravated Arson | PC 451.5

  • Aggravated arson is one of the most serious crimes in the state of California. If you are found guilty under California Penal Code Section 451.5, you face imprisonment in the state prison for 10 years to life.

It is important to note that several factors can enhance your sentence leading to you spending additional time behind bars, such as a previous felony or misdemeanor conviction for arson. Under California Penal Code Section 451.1(a)(1), you can face an additional 3,4, or 5 years in prison if you have previously been convicted of arson. 

Three Strike Law | California

To make matters worse, an arson conviction could result in a strike on your record under California’s Three Strike Law, would subject you to a possible  sentence of 25 years to life for three violent or serious felony convictions. If you are charged with any type of arson crime, you are facing far-reaching personal and legal consequences. You don’t want a conviction of this nature on your record. It will likely make it very difficult for you to get a job and obtain professional licensing or credit after your release. 

At Wallin & Klarich, we understand how confusing the laws and penalties for arson can be for our clients. This is why we take the time to make sure you understand what you are facing as well as our legal strategy to defend your freedom. Our skilled defense lawyers will answer all of your questions and ensure that you don’t have to face these serious charges alone. Call our southern California arson attorneys at (877) 4-NO-JAIL today to have the expertise and experience that you deserve on your side.

Possible Defenses Against Arson Charges in California

If you are charged with arson in California, you may feel like there is no hope in sight. However, when you choose the experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich, we will do everything within our power to fight for your freedom. Throughout our 40+ years of representing numerous clients in various types of arson cases all over Southern California, our skilled attorneys have identified many effective defenses to help our clients achieve the best result possible. We will review the specific details of your case and determine the best defenses for you.  Some of the defenses that we have identified for our clients in other arson cases include:

False Accusations/Wrongful Arrest

If you have been falsely accused, we will argue this defense on your behalf. We understand that various witnesses either intentionally or mistakenly accuse others of crimes they did not commit, including arson. Sometimes this is to get revenge, and in other cases, the witness’s account is simply unreliable. For example, you are feuding with your neighbor, and he claims you set his house on fire. He says he saw you do it. However, you have an alibi and were nowhere near his home at the time of the crime. We will gather evidence to show this witness had a motive to make a false identification and that you had an “alibi” that would make it impossible for you to have committed this crime.  

The Act Was Not Willful

In order to find you guilty of arson under California Penal Code 451, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally or willfully set fire to a property or structure. Your lawyer may argue that the fire was an accident, and you did not commit the act on purpose. For example, you are staying at a friend’s house and knock over a candle, which causes the house to catch fire. Your lawyer will argue that you did not intend to burn down the house or hurt anyone, and it was a simple accident. 

No Attempt to Defraud 

You can be charged with arson in the state of California for burning down your own property if you are attempting to defraud the insurance company. For example, you are cooking on an electric stove. The water in the pot boils over, resulting in the kitchen catching fire. You attempt to collect insurance, and the prosecution subsequently charges you with arson. Your lawyer will show the court this was an accident caused by cooking rather than you intentionally setting fire to collect insurance money on your home. 

Hiring An Arson Defense Attorney | How We Can Help You

When dealing with such serious allegations as arson, it is crucial to hire the best attorney you can find. At Wallin & Klarich criminal defense firm we believe that there are four (4) key aspects that you, the client, should look for when hiring an attorney. 

  1.   Experience
  2.   Communication
  3.   Track record
  4.   Ethos – Credibility

Wallin & Klarich | 40+ Years of Experience Defending Arson Charges

Here at Wallin & Klarich, our team of highly trained attorneys have over 40+ years of experience representing clients accused of arson. This experience does not only mean that we are competent in the handling of your case, but equally important, we know our way around the local courthouses, and we know the local prosecutors. This sometimes overlooked, and often underappreciated knowledge makes it easier to craft a defense that gives you the highest chance of success possible. 

24/7 Communication with Your Attorney | The Wallin & Klarich Way 

Cases are won in the courtroom but made in the office. At Wallin & Klarich, we believe that communication and transparency are vital for a successful case. With all the paperwork and legality, we have found that when people retain other law firms it is common for the client to get lost in the legal process and only have a vague idea of what is going on in their case. We believe this is why so many people retain our law firm to help them when facing an arson charge. By keeping an open line of communication with our clients and walking side-by-side with them through the entire legal process we have found that our clients are not only happier but receive a better outcome when communication is kept at the forefront of our efforts. 

Give us a call at (877) 4-NO-JAIL and let’s begin communicating on how we can get the best outcome for your case. 

Track Record of Success | Wallin & Klarich History of Winning Cases

Words mean nothing if the outcome of your case is not what you were looking for. We are confident enough in our abilities to deliver the best possible outcome in case we invite you to read about some of our previous client’s experience in dealing with their arson case:

Reputation & Ethos | Wallin & Klarich A Reputation You Want on Your Side

There are hundreds of lawyers that claim to have extensive experience defending clients throughout California charged with arson. It is often difficult to determine which law firm to hire to help you in your arson case. Throughout our 40 years of representing persons facing criminal charges many of our cases have been recognized on television, in newspapers and can be viewed throughout the internet. Feel free to check out some of our most noteworthy cases below. 

The Bottom Line

Being charged with arson can cause huge concern and worry, and it could negatively affect your life in many ways, including loss of your freedom, your employment as well as your reputation. However, you don’t have to go through it on your own. Our help is only a phone call away.

Contact us online or call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, West Covina, Torrance, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Diego, and throughout Southern California, we have an office near where you live or work. Many of our initial consultations are done virtually. During your initial consultation, we will ask about the facts of your case. We will discuss every aspect of your case and go over the potential defenses that may be available for you. When it matters most, you can rely on Wallin & Klarich to defend your rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on the severity of the crime and the specific penal code that the arson charge was filed under, the statute of limitations can be either 3 years, 6 years, or no limitation.

There are many types of arson charges in the state of California, all of which carry unique sentencing. Depending on the crime you were charged with and the severity of the act, the consequences could be as severe as life behind bars. For most instances of arson, however, you could serve anywhere from 3 to 9 years in prison.

The main difference between first and second-degree arson is severity. First-degree arson occurs when a building is set on fire and there are people inside, whereas second-degree arson is the result of an empty building being set ablaze.

Third-degree arson occurs when someone uses fire or explosives to intentionally damage property with the intent to defraud.

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