California Penal Code Section 452

Have you been arrested or accused of violating California Penal Code 452? Violations of this particular penal code can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony criminal offense. Whether you will face a misdemeanor or a felony will  likely depend on the specific circumstances of your alleged crimes as well as your previous criminal history.


At MacGregor & Collins, LLP, our top notch arson defense attorneys have assisted several alleged offenders accused of starting fires. They offer free legal evaluations and consultations to help you better understand your charges. Call or fill out our contact form today to get help now.


PC 452 Defined


According to governing California laws, reckless arson is defined as carelessly setting fire to someone else’s property.


Unlike PC 451, which covers arson offenses committed with malicious intent, CPC 452 governs those who set a fire without intending too. If you knew that your actions would result in a serious  risk, but you ignored the risk and a fire was started that caused injury, property damage, or damage to forest land, prosecutors may have enough evidence to convict you. If your offense caused great bodily injury, you can expect prosecutors to charge you with a felony count.




Reckless offenses can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. Authorities refer to crimes like this as “wobblers” which can result in minor penalties or very harsh penalties depending upon the specific circumstances of each individual’s case. For example, if a person lit a fire which became the cause of serious injuries or death, the defendant will most likely be charged with a felony. If prosecutors allege that your particular offense resulted in minor property damage, it will most likely result in a misdemeanor charge.


The following are penalties that can be imposed upon those found guilty for this particular offense:


Misdemeanor Charges:

  • A maximum of one year in jail
  • A $1,000 maximum fine
  • Informal probation


Felony Charges

  • Up to nine years in the California State Prison
  • Ten thousand dollars with a possible additional fifty thousand dollar fine.


The penalties for reckless arson depend on a number of factors, which the judge will weigh for sentencing. These factors include if any victims suffered injuries and how severe those injuries were; the type of property that was damaged; or whether the defendant had any prior history of arson.


Legal Defense


If you are facing Reckless Arson charges in California, speaking with a MacGregor & Collins, LLP Orange County arson attorney may be in your best interest. You will receive a free consultation from an experienced professional for up to one hour with no obligation to retain our services. Call 888-250-2865 to get help with your PC 452 violation today.

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