On the weekend of November 9th, a transient was arrested in Santa Clarita after it was reported that he set alight newspapers and magazines, then threw the burning papers into the planters on Main Street in Newhall.
SCV deputies first responded to the reports at 6:30 am Saturday morning. When deputies arrived and located the man who matched the description in the reports they received, the suspect began rifling through his pockets and throwing items on the ground – one of which happened to be a lighter. According to witnesses, the man was using the lighter to ignite stacks of papers and magazines.
The suspect, J. Florez, 30, was arrested and charged with two felonies. The first was attempted arson of a structure, and the second was arson of property.
Arson is covered by California Penal Code 451 PC and is described as willfully and maliciously setting fire to any structure, forest land, or property. Violating California Penal Code 451 PC is a felony in California, and the possible penalties include 16 months to 3 years in prison if the thing that was burned was a piece of personal property belonging to someone else. If the thing that was burned was a structure or forest land, the penalty is 2, 4, or 6 years in prison, and if someone suffers great bodily injury as a result of the arson, the penalty is increased to 5, 7, or 9 years in state prison.
Attempted arson is still a felony, though the penalties are a little different. Typically, when a crime is charged as an attempted crime, the penalty is 50% of what the normal punishment would be if the crime had actually been completed. So, for example, the penalty for burning a structure or forest land is 2, 4, or 6 years in state prison. For the attempted arson of a structure or forest land, the penalty would be 1, 2, or 3 years in state prison.