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What types of property may lead to arson charges?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Arson is a criminal offense that involves intentionally starting or spreading a fire to harm others or destroy property. People often view arson as a violent crime because it can cost someone their life if a conflagration spreads fast enough.

The average person may typically think of arson as an attempt to destroy a building, such as someone’s home. However, prosecutors may bring arson charges against people over fires that do not involve structures.

What types of property might potentially lead to arson charges in Maryland?

Fires can damage different types of property

The association between arson and structural fires exists for a reason. According to arson data provided by the FBI, roughly 45% of reported arson cases involved buildings including public facilities and storage structures.

Mobile property, including RVs and vehicles, accounts for another 24.5% of reported arson. Surprisingly, vehicle arson is less common than arson involving other types of property. Approximately 30.5% of reported arson’s involved fires that damage crops, timber stands, fences and other property.

Arson does not need to directly threaten the safety of humans nor involve buildings to trigger criminal charges. Someone who sets fire to vacant land or a crop could face the same charges in penalties as someone who sets fire to a building or a vehicle. The state could bring secondary charges in cases where people get hurt or where the fire has a relationship to intended insurance fraud.

Understanding that arson has a relatively broad definition me benefit those facing arson charges or other criminal charges related to a recent fire. Those who learn about the law are in a better position to defend against accusations that they broke it.