California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)
1531. Unlawfully Causing a Fire: Inhabited StructureDownload PDF
1531.Unlawfully Causing a Fire: Inhabited Structure (Pen. Code,
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with unlawfully causing a
ﬁre that burned an inhabited structure [in violation of Penal Code
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant set ﬁre to[,] [or] burned[,] [or caused the burning
of] (a structure/forest land/property);
2. The defendant did so recklessly;
3. The ﬁre burned an inhabited structure.
<Alternative A—Recklessness: General Deﬁnition>
[A person acts recklessly when (1) he or she is aware that his or her
actions present a substantial and unjustiﬁable risk of causing a ﬁre, (2)
he or she ignores that risk, and (3) ignoring the risk is a gross deviation
from what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.]
<Alternative B—Recklessness: Voluntary Intoxication>
[A person acts recklessly when (1) he or she does an act that presents a
substantial and unjustiﬁable risk of causing a ﬁre but (2) he or she is
unaware of the risk because he or she is voluntarily intoxicated.
Intoxication is voluntary if the defendant willingly used any intoxicating
drink, drug, or other substance knowing that it could produce an
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.
Astructure is a (building/bridge/tunnel/power plant/commercial or
A structure is inhabited if someone lives there and either (a) is present
or (b) has left but intends to return.
[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 unlawfully cause a ﬁre 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 another person or another person’s
structure, forest land, or property.]
[Arson and unlawfully causing a ﬁre require different mental states. For
arson, a person must act willfully and maliciously. For unlawfully
causing a ﬁre, a person must act recklessly.]
New January 2006
The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction deﬁning the elements of the
If the prosecution’s theory is that the defendant did not set the ﬁre but rather
“aided, counseled or procured” the ﬁre, the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct
on aiding and abetting. (People v. Sarkis (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 23, 28 [272
Cal.Rptr. 34].) See CALCRIM Nos. 400–403.
Depending upon the theory of recklessness the prosecutor is alleging, the court
should instruct with alternative A or B.
If the defendant is also charged with arson, the court may wish to give the last
bracketed paragraph, which explains the difference in intent between unlawfully
causing a ﬁre and arson. (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 the point that defense counsel’s objection to
instruction on lesser included offense constituted invited error]; People v. Schwartz
(1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1319, 1324 [3 Cal.Rptr.2d 816].)
• Elements. Pen. Code, § 452.
•Inhabited Deﬁned. Pen. Code, § 450; People v. Guthrie (1983) 144
Cal.App.3d 832, 838, 848 [193 Cal.Rptr. 54]; People v. Jones (1988) 199
Cal.App.3d 543 [245 Cal.Rptr. 85].
• Structure, Forest Land Deﬁned. Pen. Code, § 450.
• Difference Between This Crime and Arson. People v. Hooper (1986) 181
Cal.App.3d 1174, 1182 [226 Cal.Rptr. 810].
• 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 (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against
Property, §§ 238–242.
5 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 91,
Sentencing, § 91.47 (Matthew Bender).
ARSON CALCRIM No. 1531
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143,
Crimes Against Property, § 143.11 (Matthew Bender).
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES
• Unlawfully Causing a Fire. Pen. Code, § 452.
See the Related Issues sections under CALCRIM No. 1515, Arson and CALCRIM
No. 1532, Unlawfully Causing a Fire.
CALCRIM No. 1531 ARSON