If someone accuses you of setting fire to something, then you might find yourself in jail facing arson charges.
There are four fire fire-related charges you could face here in Maryland. You may face second-degree malicious burning charges if you set fire to property worth less than $1,000. Prosecutors might charge you with first-degree malicious burning if the property damage that results is over $1,000.
When prosecutors allege that you tried to burn a building, the charge becomes second-degree arson. Charges might be upgraded to first-degree arson ones if someone was inside the building when the fire was set.
Despite these differences and the different penalties they can lead to, your defense options are similar for all four charges.
Proving you were not there is the best line of arson defense
The law assumes that someone needs to be present at the site of the fire to manually set it. You’ll need to prove that you were at a completely different location in defending yourself against the charges you face. The more evidence or alibis you can provide to back up your claim, the better.
If proving you were elsewhere is challenging, there are some other options to consider. Arson and malicious burning both require intent. A prank that went wrong or a bonfire that got out of control does not mean you meant to burn the place down. Other options could be to challenge how the police arrested you or the evidence the prosecution presents.
Arson and malicious burning both carry stiff penalties. Investigating the full range of defense options is crucial to ensure that your plans for the next few years do not go up in flames.