On behalf of Law Offices of Kathleen G. Alvarado posted in criminal law on Friday, July 27, 2018.

A young California man has been accused of setting at least one fire that has been burning in a national forest about an hour from Riverside. Specifically, he faces five counts of arson, although whether he started more than one fire was not clear.

As of a couple of days ago, the fire which this man is accused of starting was only 5 percent contained and had destroyed at least five homes as well as almost 5,000 acres of forest land. The fire had also forced the closure of roads and has also required families to leave their homes.

According to authorities, someone who was traveling on a nearby road was observed very close to where the fire began. Police eventually tracked this person’s vehicle down and arrested him, although it wasn’t clear whether the person who now faces charges was indeed the same person the man police arrested.

Under the criminal law of California, the young man who has been accused of arson is facing severe criminal penalties, and these penalties could get worse if someone winds up getting hurt or dying on account of this fire. Based on the information now available, if this man gets convicted of starting this fire, he faces up to 8 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

While there will no doubt be further investigation in to both this fire and this man’s role in it, merely being at or near place where a crime occurs is not enough to convict a defendant of a crime. This man may well have a perfectly logical explanation for his location at the time the fire started, and he also may have other defenses available. He will probably want legal assistance with preparing his defense and evaluating his options.