Do You Need an Arson Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been charged with arson, it is important to seek out experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. An arson attorney can help navigate the complex legal system and ensure that your rights are protected.

Is Arson a Felony or Misdemeanor?

State laws define arson differently, but it is generally defined as the intentional and malicious act of burning or setting fire to someone else's property.  Different jurisdictions have different laws and penalties for arson. As a misdemeanor or felony, arson depends on the state, while it's always a felony in others.

Arson is often associated with burning down a house or a building, according to some people. Setting fire to personal property (for instance, cars, boats, or machinery) qualifies, however, in most states.

Land can also be set ablaze by someone who commits arson. In many states, arson convictions can result if you intentionally start a forest fire or burn a farmer's crops.

If a structure is occupied at the time of the fire or if the fire is otherwise likely to harm people, arson statutes generally provide stiffer penalties.

How Many Degrees of Arson Are There in Minnesota?

Minnesota divides arson crimes into five degrees: fifth-degree arson is the least serious charge, while first-degree arson is the most serious charge. Also, wildlife arsons are considered separate charges in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, the charge and penalty for arson crimes vary depending on the severity of the crime, the level of injuries, and the amount of property damage caused by the fire. Arson crimes can be charged both as misdemeanors and as felonies, which carry steep fines and lengthy prison terms.

You must set a fire that damages or destroys a building in order to be considered arson in the first degree. It doesn't matter if anyone lives there or if anyone is inside. You would be charged with a first-degree crime if you cause significant damage to a building.

A second degree arson is a fire that damages or destroys any property worth more than a thousand dollars.

The third degree of arson falls under property damage that exceeds three hundred dollars but is less than a thousand dollars.

Fires in a residential or public building that cause damage to any personal property are considered to be arson in the fourth degree. Such properties include homes, hotels, schools, and restaurants, among others.

The fifth degree of arson refers to fires that cause damage to any personal property, which was not described in any of the other degrees of arson.

Another charge you may be facing is wildfire arson. You might face felony charges if you set a fire that got out of control and caused damage. Depending on the extent of the damage, any timber, underbrush, and other vegetation may be damaged.

You can be charged with negligent fire if you incited a fire which got out of control and caused damage to someone or their property.

The maximum sentence for first degree arson is up to 20 years incarceration and/or fine up to $20,000. A fine of $35,000 can be assessed if the person committing the arson knew or should have known someone was inside the building during the time of the fire.

What Are the 3 Types of Arson?

Arson of a Dwelling

Among the most serious types of arson offenses are dwelling fires. As a result, they are usually charged as a First Degree Felony since they result in injury or death to dwelling inhabitants. Persons who are intentionally using fire or explosives that cause damage to dwellings, whether or not inhabitants are present, can be fined up to $35,000 and jailed for up to 20 years, or both.

Arson of Other Buildings

The potential for personal injury, loss of life, and extensive property damage makes building fires First Degree Felonies. Setting fire or using explosives to cause damage to a building can lead to fines and sentences of up to 35 thousand dollars and 20 years in prison, or both.

Wildfire Arson

Fires in dwellings and buildings cause destruction and devastation but are comparatively easy to contain and extinguish. Wildfires are much more difficult. It is easy for fires to burn thousands of acres before they are put out when they are intentionally started in forests or open land areas. Due to the potential for massive damage, wildfire arson is automatically considered a felony offense in Minnesota, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines or up to five years in prison.

What Are the Legal Ramifications of Arson?

Arson or explosives that are intentionally used to damage or destroy a person's home (regardless of whether the occupants are inside at the time of the act) or other buildings knowing someone is inside at the time. An arsonist convicted of first-degree arson faces a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of no more than $35,000.

The fifth-degree arson charge arises when a fire is intentionally set on personal or real property of value. It's the least serious form of arson and is classified as a misdemeanor. Fifth-degree arson carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 90 days.

In case of intentional fire on personal property in a public building or multiple unit residential building with the threshold for the crime not meeting more serious charges, fourth-degree arson can be charged. A gross misdemeanor has been committed. Those found guilty of this degree of arson can face up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $3,000.

When someone sets fire to property that is worth between $300 and $1,000, or if property was destroyed intentionally in a way that could have been reasonably predicted, then third-degree arson is charged. You will face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted of this degree of arson.

Second-degree arson is intentionally setting fire to property worth more than $1,000. Arson in the second degree can land you in prison for up to ten years and cost you as much as $20,000.

Whether someone was present when the fire was set or could reasonably have been believe to have been present when the fire was set, setting fire to a dwelling is considered first-degree arson. An individual who is convicted of this most serious degree of arson may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and face fines of up to $35,000.

A wildfire arson cases or fire caused by negligence are also types of arson. Wildfire arson is when someone intentionally burns grass, timber, or other vegetation on another's property, whereas gross negligence is when someone starts a fire or lets it burn out of control.

Is Arson a Serious Charge?

The person who deliberately sets fire to a building or home in order to damage it or harm the residents could face arson charges. The consequences of an arson crime can be severe and result in legal, professional, and personal repercussions. Arson convictions in Minnesota can result in lengthy prison sentences and expensive fines, depending on the extent of the damage.

If you have been accused of arson in Minnesota, it's best to consult a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable on Minnesota arson charges. Arson is a criminal offense and can result in serious penalties. If a person intentionally sets fire on your real or personal property, you can charge them with arson. Consult an Arson Attorney now and get a free consultation for your Arson in Minnesota case.

Have You Been Charged with Arson?

Arson is a serious charge with harsh penalties. If you’ve been accused of arson, it’s important to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you build your case. Our attorneys at Birrell Criminal Defense have years of experience helping people charged with arson clear their names and move on with their lives. We understand the complex nature of these cases and are prepared to fight for you every step of the way. Contact our professional arson lawyers in Minnesota today for a free consultation and let us start fighting for your future.

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Additional Information About Arson