When people think of criminal matters, they usually think of violent crimes or incidents involving theft. While those crimes do make up a good portion of the ones that move through the criminal justice system, there are others that can occur. One of these often overlooked crimes is arson.
A person who is charged with arson is accused of setting a structure on fire. There doesn't have to be anyone in the building when it is ignited in order for someone to face criminal charges. Structure fires aren't the only prohibited kind. A person can also face arson charges for starting a forest fire.
There are a few different criteria that must be present for an arson charge to be valid. One of these is that the fire has to be intentional, set with a fraudulent intent or the result of being criminally reckless. The circumstances that surround the incident determine how the charge is handled, including the severity of the charges and the penalties that are possible.
When there isn't any injury associated with the fire, the criminal charges might not be as severe as what is possible if there are human injuries because of the incident. It is possible to face multiple charges in connection with one fire. If someone dies because of the fire, you might face murder charges.
Looking at the case as a whole is necessary in these situations. You need to look at the circumstances carefully so that you can determine how to prepare the defense. A case that includes insurance fraud accusations would be handled much differently than one that has charges related to purposefully starting a fire in a wooded area on public property.
Source: FindLaw, "Arson," accessed Feb. 23, 2018