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Is an accidental fire still arson?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If you’re facing allegations of arson, you may not deny that a fire took place. You may not even deny that you were involved. But you still do not believe that you should be charged with such a serious crime because you did not mean to do anything wrong. It was just an accidental fire. You had no intent to commit a crime.

If so, it’s important to consider the way that arson is defined in Maryland. A criminal charge can be first-degree arson, second-degree arson or simply a charge of “malicious burning.” First-degree arson usually involves someone else, who may be injured or even killed, while second-degree arson involves serious property damage. Malicious burning is typically used for the damage of less expensive personal property.

But in all three cases, the law states that the person has to “willfully and maliciously” set the fire. It is not something that they do accidentally. They were very intentional about starting the fire on purpose and they likely had a criminal goal, such as causing harm, committing insurance fraud or something of this nature.

Could you still face charges?

You certainly still may face legal charges for setting an accidental fire. If you were negligent and caused injury, you could face civil ramifications and have to pay financial compensation to the victim. Setting fire to someone else’s property, even with no ill intent, may come with serious consequences.

But if it was just a mistake or an accident, rather than something you did deliberately, you likely do not deserve to face arson allegations. Take the time to carefully consider all of your legal defense options.