Bail for Arson Charges in California

Bail for Arson Charges in California

It’s a well-known fact that California’s landscape is susceptible to fires. Some are set by nature and others are considered criminal acts of violence called arson. If you face arson charges in California, the criminal justice process determines whether you are guilty of a misdemeanor offense or subjected to felony charges.


A criminal defense lawyer is going to examine your case to determine the possibility of bail. In most cases, bail for arson is required to release the defendant from custody (jail).

Understand bail is not a fine, nor is it part of the punishment for arson. It ensures the defendant is going to show up for the court proceedings. Once the trial has been completed, the funds or property liens used to acquire the bail are released less any fees.

Arson Laws

Two California Penal Code (CPC) sections address arson charges in California making a distinction between setting or causing a fire that damages a structure, forest, land, property, or persons.
CPC, Section 451 refers to malicious felony charges.
CPC, Section 452 discusses reckless a misdemeanor offense.
Malicious arson, CPC 451 is always a felony. Reckless arson, CPC 452 is usually a misdemeanor offense unless the fire burns a structure, forest and involves bodily injury.
Punishment for arson correlates to the level of the crime. Although the county fire department conducts the investigation, arson laws involve the government agencies in the criminal prosecution or insurance coverage claim.

Bail Process and Procedures

California’s criminal justice process has three methods of posting bail if you’re accused of an arson crime. Bail payments are made to the court or a bond company, guaranteeing the defendant will appear in court.

  • CPC, Section 1269, California did away with cash bail payments in August 2018, replacing it with pretrial assessments.
  • CPC, Section 1276 provides a bail bond service.
  • CPC, Section 1276.5 is a property (collateral) bond.

If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail bond goes into default. The court than notifies the bail bond agent. Now, the defendant is facing additional charges for jumping bail and forfeits the bail.
Sometimes, the court allows a grace period for the defendant to surrender and appear in court. Talking with a criminal defense lawyer can make a difference.

Setting Bail for Arson

The state assesses several factors before granting or setting the amount of the bail. Under California’s Constitution, the court examines the seriousness of the charge, any criminal history and potential dangers or threats to the public if the defendant is released.
Data and information from the criminal justice process includes previous failure to appear in court, ties with the community and whether or not the court was previously misled or perjured.
Depending on the circumstances, if the preliminary evidence works against the defendant, the court may deny bail. If the court is satisfied with the findings, and believe there is no risk for flight, bail could be approved. Keep in mind, there are certain felonies that the court will not set bail.

Bail Amounts

According to California’s bail schedule, these set amounts can be modified at the discretion of the judicial officer (judge) for misdemeanor and felony crimes. Here, the law enforcement agencies have the right to communicate with the judicial officer that the schedule amounts are insufficient for the level of the crime.

  • 451(a) Arson causing bodily injury 100,000
  • 451(b) Arson, inhabited structure 250,000
  • 451(c) Arson, structure, or forest land 50,000
  • 452(a) Recklessly causing fire with bodily injury 50,000
  • 454 Arson during a state of emergency 150,000

The bail schedule allows an individual who has been arrested without a warrant to be released from custody before the mandated court appearance. Rather than spend the night in jail, talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately.

The scenario is overwhelming, emotional, and financially challenging. The reality of the situation requires the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. Bail amounts will vary depending on the severity of the charges and maliciousness of the crime.

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