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Arson and insurance fraud in Maryland

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Most everyone has heard stories – or at least seen depictions in the movies on TV – of people who burned down a failing business or a virtually worthless property just to get the insurance money. Unfortunately, that does sometimes happen in real life. Even when someone is the victim of a fire, they can be suspected of setting or hiring someone to set it.  

This is often charged as an arson crime as well as an insurance fraud crime. Maryland has a specific law called “Burning with intent to defraud.” The law makes it illegal to “set fire to or burn property of any kind with the intent to defraud another.”  

The offense, which is charged as a misdemeanor, can carry a prison sentence of up to five years and/or a fine of $5,000. Of course, if someone is injured or killed in the fire (even if that wasn’t the intention), the offense is far more serious. 

Arson for profit

The Maryland Insurance Administration calls it “arson for profit.” That’s when a “business, home, or vehicle is intentionally set on fire by the owner or someone acting on behalf of the owner to collect insurance money. Part of the insurance fraud typically includes the filing of a fraudulent claim. 

Sometimes, the person attempting to defraud the insurance company hires someone to handle the arson itself. That person may in turn hire someone to do it. All can face charges. It can take years in some cases, with multiple agencies cooperating with one another, to get to the bottom of what happened. 

As noted, it’s also possible to be wrongly accused of intentionally starting a fire to damage or destroy a property and collect on the insurance policy. Whichever situation you’re facing, it’s critical to take the matter seriously and get experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.