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Orange County Bar Association

Arson Investigation Orange Public Library

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo
Arson Investigation

The week prior to Thanksgiving someone apparently intentionally set a fire in the men’s restroom of the Orange Public Library. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the building was evacuated and the restroom sustained some minimal damage. The fire is under investigation.

California Penal Code Section 451 states, “A person is guilty of arson when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.”

So, to prove that someone is guilty of the crime of arson, the State must prove that (1) The defendant damaged or destroyed with fire all or part of something; And (2) The defendant acted on purpose intending to defraud, annoy, or injure someone else.

Arson includes burning someone’s clothing or trash not belonging to anyone. The punishment for arson varies depending on what damage results from the fire. The crime can be charged as a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years if great bodily injury results. Arson of property (not one’s own) is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years.

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