Two separate fires were set in Newhall over the weekend, and Santa Clarita Sheriff Station deputies have announced that a suspect is in custody. Both fires occurred in the evening, with reports of the first fire coming in at 10:14. When firefighters responded to the call, they found a dumpster had been set ablaze at the corner of Lyons Ave. and Apple St. An hour later, another call came in reporting a second fire. This fire was located across the street from the first and, much like its predecessor, it was a dumpster fire. Firefighters were able to put out the blazes without much trouble.
The suspect’s name has not yet been released, though he is likely facing arson charges. Covered under California Penal Code 451 and 452 PC, arson is described as: setting on fire any building, forest land, or property either willfully and maliciously or recklessly. It’s possible to be charged with arson even if someone sets their own property on fire as long as:
- The piece of property was a building or real estate
- The property was set alight for a fraudulent purpose (like insurance fraud)
- Another person is injured, or their property is damaged, as a result of the fire
The penalties for arson charges vary quite a bit, and will depend on several factors which include:
- Whether the charge is for malicious arson or reckless arson
- The nature of the property that was burned
- Your criminal history
- Whether or not anyone else was injured as a result of the arson
Additionally, when someone is convicted of any type of arson, the defendant can be ordered to undergo psychological evaluation in order to help the judge decide on the sentence.
PC 451 – malicious arson – is always considered a felony in California, with the possible penalties of 16 months to 8 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Also, a conviction of malicious arson will count as a strike on the defendant’s record under California’s “Three Strikes Law.”