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Name: People v. Buckner (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 724
Case #: A162304
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/30/2023
Summary

Because defendant was living in his house on the day he set it on fire, substantial evidence supports the jury’s conclusion that the house was inhabited at the time of the fire. A jury convicted Buckner of arson of an inhabited dwelling structure. On appeal, he argued substantial evidence did not support his conviction because there was no evidence that he intended to live in his home after the fire. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 450 defines “inhabited” for purposes of the arson statutes as “currently being used for dwelling purposes whether occupied or not.” The Court of Appeal reviewed relevant case law and determined that “the law does not require the prosecution to prove that Buckner intended to continue living in the house after the fire.” Here, the relevant question was whether Buckner was living in the house when the fire was set and the evidence showed he was living at the house on the day of the fire. The question of whether he intended to continue living in the house after the fire was immaterial. [Editor’s Note: In the unpublished portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal held that Buckner’s statements were properly admitted at trial. The court also reversed the order of restitution to the fire department and the insurance company and remanded for a new restitution hearing.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here:
https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A162304.PDF