Traditionally, the crime of arson prohibits the burning of someone else’s home, dwelling, or nearby property to protect people against their property being burned while they are inside. Today, the crime of arson includes burning any kind of property whether it is a home, building, structure, or a place where there are people inside.
The elements of arson
- Intention – A person is committing arson if he intentionally burns someone else’s property without their permission. Accidentally setting fire to something is not considered arson. However, the prosecutor can convict you of arson if circumstances will prove that you intended to burn the property even if you did not explicitly state your intent.
- Recklessness – You can commit arson if a property is damaged due to your recklessness. This means that you acted knowing that what you are doing is dangerous and may result to fire or property damages. In some states, causing property damage due to reckless action is charged with a different crime than arson.
- Direct or indirect – It is not necessary to directly set a fire to a property to be convicted of arson. Actions that have indirectly caused a fire to a property may result to an arson conviction. For example, if you drop a lit match in a dry area on your property that causes a wildfire and damages your neighbour’s property, it is still considered arson.
- Fire or explosion – Explosions are usually a part of arson laws in some states. This means using explosive force in order to cause damage even if the damage is caused by debris and not by an actual fire.
- Property damage – The prosecutor must show that your actions has caused damages to property to be convicted for arson. However, you can also be convicted of arson if you burn your own house to collect insurance or if you intentionally burn your property and it results to damages to someone else’s property.
Being charged with arson is serious enough and requires the legal assistance of Donich Law to save you from years in prison and substantial fines. Since arson laws differ among states, you need to hire a lawyer who is knowledgeable with the laws of your state and has experience with arson charges.