Accomplished Orange County Defense Firm
Available 24/7 to Answer Your Call 949-251-0330
Back to Top

Can an Accidental Fire Lead to an Arson Charge?

No human is perfect. Accidents happen all the time, and it’s not impossible for one of those incidents to result in a fire. While you may have caused the ignition, its status as an act of arson depends on the circumstances of the case.

Characteristics of Arson

One of the main aspects of an act of arson is its intentionality. The prosecutor must show that there was:

  • Intent: Arson requires a person to purposefully start a fire with the goal of damaging property.
  • Property damage: The fire must cause damage, even if relatively insignificant.

Arson could be an act of hate that targets a victim, but it may also be focused on the arsonist’s own property. This is typically done in an attempt to file fraudulent insurance claims.

While accidentally starting a fire isn’t grounds for an arson charge, it could lead to a conviction of reckless burning.

Reckless Burning

An individual could be punished for starting a fire in any structure, property, or forest land if they were acting recklessly. California law clarifies reckless actions, asserting that it occurs when one:

  • Acts recklessly while intoxicated
  • Causes a risk that exemplifies a deviation from the standard of conduct expected of someone in the given situation
  • Consciously disregards the substantial risk that their act will start a fire

Depending on the circumstances of the fire and the damage it caused, one could face anywhere from one to six years in prison.

If your accident has spiraled into accusations of arson or reckless burning, contact Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC. Our attorneys are ready to fight for your future. Call us today at (949) 251-0330 for a free case evaluation.