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What is arson in Maryland?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Arson involves the willful and malicious burning of or setting fire to property. Maryland law distinguishes between various degrees of arson, with the most severe being first-degree arson.

The legal consequences of an arson conviction in Maryland are severe. Understanding the specifics of each classification is beneficial for anyone facing arson-related criminal charges.

First-degree arson

Under Maryland law, first-degree arson involves deliberately setting fire to or burning a dwelling or occupied structure. This crime is considered particularly serious due to the potential threat to human life.

Second-degree arson

Second-degree arson involves the malicious burning of property or structures other than dwellings or occupied buildings. This could include unoccupied structures, vehicles or personal property.

Malicious burning

Malicious burning includes setting fire to personal property, such as vehicles or belongings. It’s divided into first-degree malicious burning, which involves property valued at over $1,000, and second-degree malicious burning, which involves property valued under $1,000.

Penalties for arson laws

A conviction for first-degree arson is a felony and can lead to imprisonment for up to 30 years. A fine of up to $50,000 is also possible. Second-degree arson is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Malicious burning in the first degree is a felony that carries up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Malicious burning in the second degree is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $500 and up to 18 months in jail.

Defending against arson charges in Maryland involves scrutinizing the prosecution’s evidence, examining the method used to determine the fire’s origin and potentially challenging the intent element of the crime. This is why having experienced legal guidance is essential.