Elements of Arson

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
March 3, 2021

Proof of a fire and evidence that the fire was started by a criminal act are the two most important components in proving arson. The accused must have intended to set fire to a structure. In the absence of a formal definition of arson, the act must be intentional rather than accidental. Malice, on the other hand, does not imply malice. Malice may be defined as intentional or excessively hazardous behavior. Motive, on the other hand, isn’t a necessary component of arson.

Only a home used as a habitation, or structures immediately surrounding it, can be the subject of arson unless a legislation extends the offense to additional property. It is not arson to burn a house that has been evacuated, closed up, or has become unsuitable for human occupancy. A brief absence from a dwelling does not invalidate its status as a home.

In most cases, the presence of a person inside a structure while it is burnt is not required. It may, however, be necessary depending on the severity of the offense. What matters is the fact of human presence, not the knowledge of it. The offense is committed if a house is torched when it is believed to be empty when it is really occupied by people.

If there is no legislation to the contrary, a person who burns his or her own property while living there is not guilty of arson. The burning of one’s own property with the goal to deceive or prejudice the property insurance is a typical exception to this rule. Furthermore, under legislation that criminalize the burning of a dwelling place without specifically requiring it to be someone else’s property, a person who destroys his or her own property might be charged with arson. For the purposes of arson, an owner is the person who owns the house and is responsible for its care, control, and administration. An owner who burns his or her house while it is in the ownership of a valid renter is guilty of arson in those states that have preserved the common-law norm that the property burnt must belong to another person.

It is important that you hire a criminal defense attorney that has experience with arson cases. Setup an appointment today with Birrell Law Firm, Arson Lawyers, to get the best legal advice for your situation.

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