Minors whose fireworks set off fire unintentionally may be found guilty of arson, state Supreme Court rules
Minors who set off fireworks that spark a fire may be found guilty of arson, even if they did not intend to start the blaze, the California Supreme Court decided in a 5-2 vote Monday.
The state high court ruled in the case of two 17-year-olds who set off a cherry bomb in Pasadena in July 2008 that caused five acres of brush to burn in the Angeles National Forest.
Two dissenting justices on the court contended that the teenagers should not have been found guilty of arson because they did not intend to start a fire and even tried to avoid dry grass when they threw the cherry bomb.
Lawyers for the teens argued that they should have been found guilty of the less severe crime of recklessly starting a fire.
But the majority concluded that the teenagers knew that throwing the cherry bomb could cause a fire.
"This was not an accidental or unintentional ignition," Justice Ming Chin wrote for the majority.
-- Maura Dolan