Fires can happen accidentally, naturally, or due to spontaneous combustion, such as from lightning. However, a person can also deliberately set a fire with malicious intent. When a person intentionally sets fire to a structure or wild area, he or she has committed the crime of arson.
When a fire occurs, officials investigate to determine the cause of the fire. Fire experts can collect information to determine the amount of time the fire spent burning, the temperature it reached, and other important factors in order to deduce how the fire originally started. After the initial investigation, officials may continue to investigate to determine who is at fault for the fire.
Often, fires started purposely are done with malicious intent, such as an act of revenge, an attack, or as an attempt to seriously harm or kill another person. However, sometimes fires are started for other reasons, such as to collect insurance compensation for the lost property.
The punishments for arson vary depending on the severity of the crime:
- First degree arson occurs when a person or persons are severely injured or killed in the fire.
- Second degree arson occurs when a significant amount of property is destroyed beyond repair.
- Misdemeanor arson can include charges of criminal mischief, destruction of property, and burglary if the case involves breaking and entering.
- In rare cases, the death penalty has been assigned to those who commit arson when the fire results in multiple deaths.
If you have been charged with arson, contact the Appleton criminal defense lawyers of Hart Powell, S.C. at 888-565-7597 for the legal representation you need.