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Santa Barbara County Man Arrested on Arson Charges and Firearms Charges

Steven R. Andrade Nov. 5, 2021

According to a report from Santa Barbara Independent, a Santa Barbara County man has been charged with arson and several other criminal offenses. Notably, the man, 43-year-old Christopher Vance of Goleta, is also accused of firing a weapon. In this blog post, our Santa Barbra criminal defense lawyer provides an overview of the case and explains arson charges more generally.

Allegations: Man Started Structure Fire, Discharged Firearm

The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office responded to an incident that occurred on Salisbury Avenue in the city of Goleta during the early morning hours of October 19th. Upon arrival, officers discovered a structure fire. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department was also dispatched to help control the scene. A 43-year-old Goleta man who is accused of starting the fire was tracked down and arrested several blocks away from the residence. A witness indicates that he also fired a weapon. The man is now face a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges, including:

  • Misdemeanor prowling;

  • Resisting arrest;

  • Felony vandalism;

  • Felony burglary;

  • Shooting into an occupied dwelling; and

  • Arson of an occupied dwelling.

One woman was injured in the fire and was transported to a local hospital for emergency medical attention. The good news is that she is expected to make a full recovery from her injuries. Based on the severity of the criminal charges, the defendant was issued “enhanced bail.” He is currently being held in local jail on $500,000 bail.

California Criminal Law: An Overview of Arson Charges

Arson is a very serious criminal offense in California. Under California Penal Code § 451, a person can be charged with felony arson if they “willfully and maliciously” set a fire that destroys public or private property. The penalties for felony arson will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Here is an overview of the arson penalties in California:

  • Arson that Causes Great Bodily Injury: A felony offense carrying 5 to 9 years in state prison.

  • Arson of an Inhabited Structure or Inhabited Property: A felony offense carrying 3 to 8 years in state prison.

  • Arson of an Unoccupied Structure or Forest Land: A felony offense carrying 2 to 6 years in state prison.

  • Arson of Other Personal Property: A felony offense carrying 16 months to 3 years in state prison.

A conviction on a felony arson offense in Southern California can carry additional penalties as well, potentially including large financial sanctions and the loss of a clean criminal record.

Get Help from A Santa Barbara, Ca Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Andrade Law Offices, our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorney has the professional expertise to handle arson charges. If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with an arson-related offense, we can help. Contact our legal team today for a completely confidential case evaluation. Our firm provides criminal defense representation throughout the region, including in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Goleta, Isla Vista, Montecito, Summerland, and Hope Ranch.