Arson is defined as the reckless burning or exploding of the dwelling house of another, or the burning of a building within the immediate surrounding space, of the dwelling of another. Modern legislation has expanded the definition to include commercial and public buildings and structures. Some elements of arson include:
Intent – whoever starts the fire must have purposely set the fire, not by accident.
Recklessness – knowing that reckless behavior can have dangerous results.
Property Damage – property must have damage of some sort for arson to be committed.
Each state has different degrees of arson based on if the building was occupied, or if insurance fraud was the reasoning for starting the fire. Punishment for arson can be minor or as extreme as the death penalty. The more serious cases of arson will result in stricter punishment. Arson cases are investigated by law enforcement to detect the origin and cause of the fire. Some cases can take years to fully investigate.
In some situations, people will try to get quick money by engaging in arson to collect from the insurance policy that a dwelling is covered by. This would all under insurance fraud and the person who committed the crime and be held liable for both arson and insurance fraud.
If you find yourself being accused of arson, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will let you know what rights you have and will represent you in court.