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Is it a crime to threaten to burn down a building?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Among the serious and violent criminal offenses, arson ranks highly on that list. It’s also a surprisingly common crime across America.

In 2022, there were 36,274 arson cases in the U.S. While most arson cases that year involved structures such as residential homes, commercial buildings and public facilities, there were also many automobile fires.

Fire is an incredibly destructive and unpredictable force – a deadly combination that can lead to widespread property damage, grievous burn injuries and even death. But while knowingly setting fire to property is a crime, what about making a threat of arson?

Arson threats are criminal offenses

Under Maryland law, persons are prohibited from making any verbal or written threats to set fire to a structure or to cause an explosion to damage a building. This is a misdemeanor offense, and upon conviction, the person will face imprisonment for up to 10 years and as much as $10,000 in fines. This offense applies whether a fire broke or not.

The intent to burn

For a criminal charge to stick, prosecutors in a case against someone accused of threatening arson will look for evidence proving that the accused had the intent to burn a building. For instance, the law considers placing any flammable, explosive or combustible materials next to the structure in question as an attempt to burn the property.

Yes, it’s a crime to threaten to burn down a building. However, prosecutors must prove the accused’s intent to follow through with their threats. Those currently facing charges should carefully plan their defense because even if there wasn’t any fire, they can still be convicted.