Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 18,400+ case briefs...

People v. Atkins

Supreme Court of California
18 P.3d 660 (2001)



Robert Atkins (defendant) told his friends that he was going to burn down the house of Orville Figgs. The next day, a fire was reported in the canyon where Figgs lived. A soil sample collected by the fire marshal revealed the presence of gasoline, and Atkins’s wallet was found near the site where the fire had originated. When interviewed by the fire marshal, Atkins said that he and his brother had been drinking all day and then drove to the canyon and kept drinking. Atkins said that the area was overgrown with weeds, which he decided to burn with gasoline. The fire spread quickly, and after Atkins and his brother tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire, they panicked and fled. Atkins said that he did not mean any harm by setting the fire, and maintained that the fire was an accident. Atkins was subsequently charged with arson of forest land. The trial court instructed the jury that arson was a general-intent crime and that voluntary intoxication was not a defense to arson. The jury convicted Atkins. On appeal, Atkins argued that evidence of voluntary intoxication was admissible to show that he lacked the necessary intent to commit the crime. The court of appeal found that arson required a specific intent to set fire to or burn forest land, and that evidence of Atkins’s voluntary intoxication should have been admitted. The court of appeal reversed based on the trial court’s instruction that voluntary intoxication was not a defense to arson. The Supreme Court of California granted the state’s petition for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)

Concurrence (Mosk, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 497,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 497,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 18,400 briefs, keyed to 985 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial