Know Your Rights Before You Light: Setting Fires Could Land You a Thirty Year Prison Sentence...or Worse
Do you like setting things on fire and watching them burn? If so, you should be familiar with Indiana’s Arson laws.
According to Indiana Code § 35-43-1-1, the crime of Arson occurs when “[a] person who, by means of fire, explosive, or destructive device, knowingly or intentionally damages:
(1) a dwelling of another person without the other person's consent;
(2) property of any person under circumstances that endanger human life;
(3) property of another person without the other person's consent if the pecuniary loss is at least five thousand dollars ($5,000); or
(4) a structure used for religious worship without the consent of the owner of the structure.
If a person commits any one of the above actions then they have committed Arson as a Level 4 Felony. However, Arson is a Level 3 Felony if it results in bodily injury to any person other than the Defendant. The offense of Arson is a Level 2 Felony if it results in serious bodily injury to any person other than the Defendant.
Other forms of Arson include when a person who, by means of fire, explosive, or destructive device, knowingly or intentionally damages property of any person with intent to defraud commits Arson as a Level 6 Felony. This situation is commonly associated with insurance fraud.
Additionally, a person who, by means of fire, explosive, or destructive device, knowingly or intentionally damages property of another person without the other person's consent so that the resulting pecuniary loss is at least two hundred fifty dollars ($250) but less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) also commits Arson as a Level 6 Felony.
What’s important to understand is that the intent element for Arson is the intent to set fire to a building or structure, not the intent to harm another person. Whether intentional or not, personal injury to another can occur and, if it does, the base offense of Arson can be aggregated up to a Level 2 Felony.
Being charged with Arson can carry heavy monetary penalties as well as serious prison time. In addition to having to possibly pay restitution to the property owner for the damage caused, if convicted of Arson a person could face anywhere between Six (6) months to Thirty Years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. Of course, if the Arson was committed with knowledge that another person was in the building, the perpetrator could potentially face an additional charge of Attempted Murder and even Felony Murder if the Arson resulted in death. Attempted Murder is a Level 1 Felony and carries a possible prison sentence of between twenty (20) and forty (40) years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. If convicted of Felony Murder an individual faces a prison sentence of forty (40) years to life and, depending on the facts, could face the death penalty.
Having an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, such as Attorney Michael A. Campbell is important when you are facing serious criminal charges. Attorney Michael A. Campbell has had success suppressing evidence and isn’t afraid to take a case to trial.
Facing criminal charges in Northwest Indiana or the Chicagoland area? Know your rights. Call Campbell Law for a FREE case consultation.