Gov. Edmund Brown last Friday signed legislation sponsored by a state senate Republican to increase penalties for committing arson in California.
Assembly Bill 930 extends the current sunset provisions until January 2019. They expired on Jan. 1, 2014. It will also increase the value of property damage from $6.5 million to $7 million.
Re-instating the previous penalties maintains the penalties of 10 years to life if guilty of aggravated arson.
“It is important to preserve this statute to provide law enforcement and prosecutors a valuable tool to deal with the most dangerous arsonists in California,” Sen. Tom Berryhill (Dist. 14) said when he introduced the bill. “If the cost of fire suppression is no longer considered when calculating the cost of property damage and loss to determine whether to convict a person of aggravated arson, then the state would lose a valuable deterrent for arson-caused wildland fires.
“Additionally, in some cases where a person was not charged with aggravated arson because fire suppression costs were no longer included in the conviction calculation, we would lose the ability to mandate the person to register as an aggravated arsonist, despite causing substantial costs,” Berryhill added.