If it seems as if a fire couldn’t have naturally started where it was, or if there are multiple, unlikely burn sites, this is reason to raise eyebrows. https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/crime-penalties/federal/Arson.htm These crimes all qualify as a second degree felony in Texas. If it’s impossible to prove that an arson wasn’t committed in the first place, then another option is alleviating the penalties. Punishments and Fines for Illegal Downloading, Is Weed Legal in Texas? Less than $100 worth of damage is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of three months in jail. The three were also ordered by the court to pay restitution of $582,506.36. A person is guilty of fifth-degree arson if they have intentionally damaged someone else’s property by causing a fire but causing no harm to individuals. Someone can also commit arson by setting fire to land. How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record? When arguing for higher punishments, it may also be essential for the prosecution to define whether the arson was direct or indirect, as well as if an explosive was used to cause the fire. Typically, arson involves setting fire to a building. A primary defense method, if possible, will be that the fire was accidental. Arson is a felony that is recognized in the majority of developed nations throughout the world. If the fire results in serious harm, a separate second-degree felony can be charged. Can I change defense lawyers after I've hired one? A very common reason for arson is destroying one’s own property that is insured in order to cash out the policy. It separates arson into different felony classes, depending on specific circumstances. Of that amount, $4,009,008 was paid out by insurance companies. Most of the time these will be their business, home, boat, car, or something else important that they have an insurance policy on. There are a few aspects that are required when proving arson charges. Some at the conference felt that this could not be a coincidence and began to question whether the arsonist was one of their own. Famous Riots and the Insurrection Act of 1807, Is Piracy a Felony? The arson ring was known to cheer on the blazes as the buildings burned. An essential element of the crime of arson is intent. Felonies.org does not provide legal advice and Provider is not a law firm. Under Illinois law, for example, a person who burns insured personal property worth $150 or more, with the intent to deceive the insurance company, has committed felony arson. Felonies.org provides general information related to the law and lawyers designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. Ann. But that thought did not run through the mind of Jacksonville man Christopher Joseph Koepke. Typically, the method used to start the fire is irrelevant. To pull off the fraud, someone must make the fire appear to have been started by natural causes, or a cause out of their control. In all, the damages claimed totaled $5,653,665. Terrorism can be carried out as arson, and other extreme cases include targeting abortion clinics or organizations they disagree with. Legislatures consider it a serious crime because of the devastation fires can cause. As previously mentioned, felonies tend to be more violent in nature; however, there are several non-violent felony crimes. As this is a more serious crime, probation is a possibility here as well, sometimes lasting in the upwards of five years. Other aggravated conditions will also result in high penalties. California has more breadth to its arson laws due to the many campgrounds and national forests in the state. Second-degree arson is a Class G felony and carries a minimum sentence of eight months and a maximum of 31 months in jail. Arson laws can vary greatly by state, and arson on government property is a severe federal offense. Aggravated arson is a Class X felony with a six to 30-year prison sentence. For one, some offenders will commit arson in order to destroy evidence. For one, some offenders will commit arson in order to destroy evidence. Arson statutes can be complicated and vary significantly from state to state. If you attempt to collect insurance on your damages, though, then you have committed insurance fraud. Koepke bought a $70,000 renter’s insurance policy and could not wait to start lighting multiple fires in his apartment. After Orr’s arrest, the 350-page manuscript for “Points of Origin” was found in his house. Historically, English common law viewed arson as maliciously burning someone else’s home. Arson in the first degree is a Class A felony and comes with a prison sentence of 15 to 25 years. Third-degree arson is reserved for insurance fraud cases. To catch Orr in the act, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms placed tracking devices on his car. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice. This offense is a misdemeanor in Alabama. The story follows an arson investigator who has the suspicion that the arsonist is one of his own. State arson laws are going to vary greatly, but these are the laws that cover most other property, such as dwellings, privately owned land, vehicles, and other more personal properties. The criminal codes and statutes for an arson charge will vary based upon the location in which the action was committed. The first step when looking into the cause of a fire involves finding the initial burn site in order to determine what caused the fire. Soon after that fire, their two homes in San Jose and Stockton both burned down. During the conference, several different fires broke out around the city. Penalties will also be determined based on how much danger it put others in. Along with these penalties, arson may also come with the requirement to pay restitution, which can be the cost of replacing or fixing damaged property, medical expenses, or even paying for the firefighters to put out the fire. § 844(i). Arson is almost always considered a felony due to its capacity to cause death and destruction. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail. While these may still result in some charges, they may not be elevated to the highest level, or can be taken down a notch or two. While the evidence against him was all circumstantial, a jury found him guilty of two separate counts of first-degree arson, five counts of second-degree arson, and one count of insurance fraud. In many states, burning property that you own in order to collect on an insurance policy constitutes arson. By burning a possession such as a house or a car, the person would then collect money from their insurance company. For more information on arson crimes, or to find out about procedures and potential penalties in your area, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. The irony of this case is that Orr was a chief arson investigator. Second-degree arson does not involve an occupied building and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. This may include destroying business records to hide wrongdoings, a murder weapon or other crime scene evidence, a stolen vehicle, or any other item that could be used to convict someone of a crime or of doing something wrong. This may include destroying business records to hide wrongdoings, a murder weapon or other crime scene evidence, a stolen vehicle, or any other item that could be used to convict someone of a crime or of doing something wrong. Disobeying local fire ordinances, such as those restricting bonfires or campfires, can also lead to arson charges if the fire spreads and causes damage. Ha Nguyen pleaded guilty to arson and insurance fraud and was sentenced to eight years in jail. This profit can also come in the form of, surprisingly, firefighters committing arson to provide themselves work or to be deemed a hero. Arson laws and penalties vary by jurisdiction. John Orr may have gotten away with his carnage if not for his desire to be a novelist. Setting fire to someone’s personal property worth $25 or more, a property in which the defendant or someone they know has a legal interest in, and any type of shrubbery, forest, timber, crops, grass, or other vegetation will be a third degree felony with 1 – 4 years and no more than $5,000. Typically, the severity of the punishment for arson is determined by the extent of damage done and if anyone was harmed in the fire. It must be proven that it was done knowing one of these things: Also qualifying is when the person disregards that the crime will put someone’s life or property in danger. The least severe of these is arson in the fifth degree, which is a Class A misdemeanor. Orr began to give himself away by writing the book “Points of Origin,” which highlights a firefighter with an obsession for lighting his own blazes. Some states may prosecute these insurance fraud charges in addition to its arson charges, resulting in aggravated penalties. New Hampshire has its arson laws outlined in NH Rev Stat § 634:1. This is generally assisted by the fire department, as they investigate all suspicious fires anyways. Some may also refer to these cases as aggravated arson. The first, as in many felonies, is intent. It is a Class 4 felony and carries a sentence between two and six years in jail. Famous Riots and the Insurrection Act of 1807, Is Piracy a Felony? There are more reasons to commit arson than just wanting to maliciously hurt someone or their property. (Utah Code Ann. This is a Class 3 felony that carries a sentence of four to 12 years in jail. Some will start fires on their own property in order to claim insurance money, or in order to gain some kind of profit off of the fire. To Koepke’s credit, he had already gotten away with likely insurance fraud in the past. Under Utah law, for instance, arson causing property damage of $1,500 or less is a misdemeanor. In cases where there wasn’t an insurance pay out, they may also be able to claim that it was their – and only their – property, meaning they didn’t damage anyone else’s property and charges are not valid. Additionally, some people, typically referred to as pyromaniacs, just enjoy setting items on fire, usually because of some psychological disorder, to get attention, or just for the thrill. It could also be a form of revenge, whether to harm someone or just destroy their belongings. Arson is a crime of willfully and maliciously setting fire to or charring property. If the crime results in the harm of a person, that sentence raises to 7 – 40 years and higher fines. The defendant may also find a way to prove that no damage occurred, or that the damage the prosecution is claiming was not caused by their act of arson. The key behind the scheme was that the Chens would take burned items from previous fires and place them in the new fires in order to make insurance claims all over again on the same items. The book also hinted at Orr’s motive—a sexual thrill from watching fires burn. Felony crimes also include some of the most serious types of crimes that a person can commit, such as first-degree murder and arson.
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