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Why does arson carry such serious penalties in Maryland?

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Given that arson is a crime against property as opposed to a person, it may be hard to understand why the penalties can be so harsh. A conviction for first-degree arson, however, carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a significant fine.

If you’ve been charged with this offense it’s really important, therefore, to understand exactly what might happen in your case.

First and second-degree arson convictions include jail time

A first-degree conviction for arson in Maryland is a felony that is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. It must be proven that a person wilfully and maliciously burned the dwelling of another while that person was inside.

A second-degree conviction applies where the property in question was not a dwelling. It is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $30,000 fine.

There must be an intent to cause harm

An arson conviction in the first or second degree means that the individual committing the offense did so with malice, i.e. they intended to cause another person harm.

The consequences of first and second-degree arson are therefore very significant as they mirror the seriousness with which the offense is treated. Causing damage by fire to the property of another person has the potential to cause significant harm and even death to those inside and is the reason why the legal penalties for a conviction are so harsh.

Many people find themselves charged with the crime of arson when they believe they were either not responsible or the fire started accidentally. Given the seriousness of the penalties that come with an arson conviction, seeking legal help as early as possible is going to be essential in fighting your case.