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What constitutes the crime of arson?

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If you are charged and convicted of arson, you could face serious legal consequences.

Maryland laws classify arson into two categories – first- and second-degree arson. Exactly when can you be charged with arson?

Grounds upon which you may be charged with arson

Proof of fire and the existence of evidence that someone willfully and maliciously started it are the two crucial elements when litigating arson. In other words, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally caused the fire to achieve a specific motive. That said, here are instances when you can be charged with arson:

  • You started a fire or set up an explosive to destroy a property – This is, obviously, the clearest form. If you recklessly or intentionally set fire on property, or cause an explosion, you may be charged with arson.
  • You endangered life – If the alleged fire put other people’s lives at risk, you may be charged with arson alongside other offenses.
  • You attempted to commit insurance fraud – If there is evidence that you set your home or car on fire to make a fraudulent insurance claim, the incident will most likely be treated as arson.

Arson is a serious offense. With that said, subject to the circumstances of your case, these are some of the defense options you may raise:

  • Lack of intent – Accidents happen all the time. Lack of intent can be a strong defense if you can show that you did not start the fire on purpose or that you had no intention of hurting anyone, damaging property or hiding something.
  • Alibi – If you have evidence that you were not physically present at the scene of the crime when the fire started, then you can claim innocence.

If you are charged with arson, it is in your best interest that you figure out how to defend your interests. Understanding Maryland’s arson laws, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, could be a great place to start.