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The role of intent in an arson case

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Those who’ve been accused of arson may not deny that a structure caught fire. They may not deny that they were in the area. But they still may feel that they are not guilty of arson simply because there was no intent.

Arson is defined as the “willful or malicious burning of property”. It is something that is done intentionally, and the person who starts the fire is attempting to destroy that property. For instance, this could be a disgruntled employee who was fired from a business and decided to start a fire on the business’s property after hours. They clearly wanted to start the fire and they wanted to cause damage.

The definition goes on to say that arson often has a “criminal or fraudulent intent.” This is simply another nod to the fact that the arsonist has to have intent in order to be breaking the law.

Why does intent matter?

Intent is so important because it shows why the actions took place and what the person’s role was. A person could accidentally start a fire on a property they don’t own, and they may fully be responsible for that fire, but that could just be an example of negligence. If they do it on purpose, that changes it into a strictly criminal act.

Are you facing charges?

If you are facing charges for something like arson and you don’t believe that you intentionally did anything wrong, it can have a dramatic impact on your legal case. Make sure you understand all the criminal defense options at your disposal.