In 2003, the majority of California seemed to be on fire. As wildfires spread across the nation, some 600,000 acres and 2,000 homes were destroyed. Sixteen lives were claimed and ten of the fires started allegedly began as a result of arsonists.
The number of individuals arrested for arson in 2006 was 16,582. According to the FBI, anger seems to be a common factor behind the arson. The statistics are shocking: half of the arsons are committed by individuals younger than 18, the other half by individuals in their late 20s. 90% of all arsonists are white males. The FBI claims that many apprehended arsonists shared they had a history of physical abuse and humiliation. Other motivations include: “revenge, excitement, and thrills.”
Insurance fraud is a common motivation, when one’s own house or business is set on fire. The punishment varies for arson: the most common sentence is seven years, however if residential homes were destroyed, a sentence can be as high as 20 years or more. Furthermore, in some rare cases, arsonists have received the death penalty if the fires they set caused the death of a victim.
In 2006 it is estimated 31,000 fires were set by arsonists, resulting in 305 deaths and $755 million in damage. Recently a German national was charged with 100 felony charges for setting 49 fires across Los Angeles during New Year’s. The man set the fires as a reaction to his mother being arrested on an international arrest warrant. While nobody was hurt, property damage reached an estimated $3 million.
Arson can be deemed a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the situation. Factors such as previous convictions or injuries to a firefighter or other emergency officer can result in sentence enhancements. If you have been charged with arson, it is imperative that you seek legal help immediately.
Okabe & Haushalter is a criminal defense firm that offers legal representation in arson cases. The firm has been featured on USA Today, CNN and Newsweek, among other big-name news sources and Attorney Okabe and Attorney Haushalter have both been named SuperLawyer®, a tradition of success that has spanned across 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.