California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)
1515. ArsonDownload PDF
(ii) Simple Arson
1515.Arson (Pen. Code, § 451(c–d))
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with arson [in violation of
Penal Code section 451(c/d)].
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.
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.
[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, August 2016
The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction deﬁning the elements of the
If it is also alleged that the ﬁre caused great bodily injury or burned an inhabited
structure or property, see CALCRIM No. 1501, Arson: Great Bodily Injury and
CALCRIM No. 1502, Arson: Inhabited Structure.
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(c–d).
•Structure, Forest Land, and Maliciously Deﬁned. Pen. Code, § 450; see People
v. Labaer (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 289, 293–294 [105 Cal.Rptr.2d 629]
[“structure” does not require ﬁnished or completed building].
• General Intent Crime. People v. Atkins (2001) 25 Cal.4th 76, 83–84, 86 [104
Cal.Rptr.2d 738, 18 P.3d 660] [evidence of voluntary intoxication not admissible
to negate mental state].
• Property Deﬁned. In re L.T. (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 262, 264–265 [126
• 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].
2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Crimes Against
Property, §§ 268–276.
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143,
Crimes Against Property, § 143.11 (Matthew Bender).
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES
• 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].
Fire damage to ﬁxtures within a building may satisfy the burning requirement if the
ﬁxtures are an integral part of the structure. (In re Jesse L. (1990) 221 Cal.App.3d
161, 167–168 [270 Cal.Rptr. 389]; People v. Lee (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 1773, 1778
ARSON CALCRIM No. 1515
[30 Cal.Rptr.2d 224] [whether wall-to-wall carpeting is a ﬁxture is question of fact
Arson includes burning a victim’s clothing. (People v. Reese (1986) 182
Cal.App.3d 737, 739–740 [227 Cal.Rptr. 526].)
Burning trash that does not belong to the defendant is arson. There is no
requirement for arson that the property belong to anyone. (In re L.T. (2002) 103
Cal.App.4th 262, 264 [126 Cal.Rptr.2d 778].)
1516–1519. Reserved for Future Use
CALCRIM No. 1515 ARSON