CALCRIM No. 1501. Arson: Great Bodily Injury (Pen. Code, § 451)
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2023 edition)Download PDF
1501.Arson: Great Bodily Injury (Pen. Code, § 451)
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with arson that caused great
bodily injury [in violation of Penal Code section 451].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant set fire to or burned [or (counseled[,]/ [or]
helped[,]/ [or] caused) the burning of] (a structure/forest land/
2. (He/She) acted willfully and maliciously;
3. The fire caused great bodily injury to another person.
To set fire to or burn means to damage or destroy with fire either all or
part of something, no matter how small the part.
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on
Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful
act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to defraud, annoy, or
injure someone else.
Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is
an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.
[A structure is any (building/bridge/tunnel/power plant/commercial or
[Forest land means brush-covered land, cut-over land, forest, grasslands,
[Property means personal property or land other than forest land.]
[A person does not commit arson if the only thing burned is his or her
own personal property, unless he or she acts with the intent to defraud,
or the fire also injures someone else or someone else’s structure, forest
land, or property.]
New January 2006; Revised February 2013, April 2020, September 2020
The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction defining the elements of the
The second sentence of the great bodily injury definition could result in error if the
prosecution improperly argues great bodily injury may be shown by greater than
minor injury alone. (Compare People v. Medellin (2020) 45 Cal.App.5th 519,
533-535 [258 Cal.Rptr.3d 867] [the definition was reasonably susceptible to
prosecutor’s erroneous argument that the injury need only be greater than minor]
with People v. Quinonez (2020) 46 Cal.App.5th 457, 466 [260 Cal.Rptr.3d 86]
[upholding instructions containing great bodily injury definition as written].)
If attempted arson is charged, do not instruct generally on attempts but give
CALCRIM No. 1520, Attempted Arson. (Pen. Code, § 455.)
• Elements. Pen. Code, § 451.
• Great Bodily Injury. Pen. Code, § 12022.7(f).
• Structure, Forest Land, and Maliciously Defined. Pen. Code, § 450.
• To Burn Defined. People v. Haggerty (1873) 46 Cal. 354, 355; In re Jesse L.
(1990) 221 Cal.App.3d 161, 166-167 [270 Cal.Rptr. 389].
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES
• Arson. Pen. Code, § 451.
• Attempted Arson. Pen. Code, § 455.
• Unlawfully Causing a Fire. People v. Hooper (1986) 181 Cal.App.3d 1174, 1182
[226 Cal.Rptr. 810], disapproved of in People v. Barton (1995) 12 Cal.4th 186
[47 Cal.Rptr.2d 569, 906 P.2d 531] on its holding that failure to instruct on this
crime as a lesser included offense of arson was invited error because defense
counsel objected to such instruction; People v. Schwartz (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th
1319, 1324 [3 Cal.Rptr.2d 816].
See the Related Issues section under CALCRIM No. 1515, Arson.
Dual Convictions Prohibited
A single act of arson cannot result in convictions under different subdivisions of
Penal Code section 451. (People v. Shiga (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 466, 475 [246
2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Crimes Against
Property, §§ 268-276.
5 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 91,
Sentencing, § 91.47 (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes
Against Property, § 143.11 (Matthew Bender).
ARSON CALCRIM No. 1501