WHAT IS ARSON?
In the State of Michigan, arson is defined as willfully or maliciously burning or damaging by fire any type of property including; land, houses, buildings, and personal property. The sentence for a conviction can range from a misdemeanor offense and a short-term of incarceration to multiple felonies and life in prison. An individual can be charged with arson regardless of whether the person owns the property. Arson is a very serious criminal charge and it is imperative to have a defense team on your side working for you immediately. Our criminal defense team has many years of experience defending individuals charged with arson.FIRST DEGREE ARSON
Michigan Compiled Law § 750.72 defines first degree arson as the willful or malicious burning of any of the following:
- A multiunit building or structure in which 1 or more units are a dwelling, regardless of whether any of the units are occupied.
- Any building or structure or other real property if the fire or explosion results in physical injury to any individual.
- A mine.
First degree arson is a felony punishable by imprisonment for life and a fine of not more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged.
SECOND DEGREE ARSON
Michigan Compiled Law § 750.73 defines second degree arson as the willful or malicious burning of a dwelling. It is important to note that second degree arson pertains to any dwelling other than a multiunit building which falls under first degree.
Second degree arson is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years and a fine of not more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged.
THIRD DEGREE ARSON
Michigan Compiled Law § 750.74 defines third degree arson and it applies when an individual willfully or maliciously burns real property or personal property with a value of $20,000.00 or more. However, if an individual is a repeat offender, he or she could be charged with third degree arson if the value of the property is $1,000.00 or more.
Third degree arson is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged.
FOURTH DEGREE ARSON – BURNING WOODS
Fourth degree arson, which is defined by Michigan Compiled Law § 750.74, applies when property is destroyed by fire or explosion and the property is valued between $1,000.00 and $20,000.00. If an individual has 1 or more previous convictions, a charge of fourth degree arson can be authorized if the value of the destroyed property is $200.00 or more.
Additionally, an individual can be charged with fourth degree arson if he or she willfully or negligently sets fire to a woods, prairie, or grounds of another person.
Fourth degree arson is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years and a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged.
FIFTH DEGREE ARSON
Michigan Compiled Law § 750.77 applies when a person intentionally damages by fire or explosive personal property having a value of $1,000.00 or less and has 1 or more prior convictions.
Fifth degree arson is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year and a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged.
Pursuant to Michigan Compiled Law § 750.79, an individual who intends to commit arson and takes an action in furtherance of the intent, can be charged under this section. Depending on an individuals’ record, and the nature and value of the property, the penalties can range from imprisonment for 93 days and a $500.00 fine to 15 years imprisonment and a substantial fine.
AIDING OR ABETTING
An individual who aids, counsels, induces, persuades, or procures another to commit arson can be charged and if convicted, penalized under Michigan Compiled Law § 750.79.
ARSON OF INSURED PROPERTY
Michigan Compiled Law § 750.76 defines arson of insured property and applies to the malicious burning of a dwelling, structure, or personal property with the intent to defraud the insurer. If the damaged property is a dwelling, the offense is punishable by imprisonment for life and a fine of not more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged. For any other real property or building, the potential penalty is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $20,000 or three times the value of the property damaged. For personal property, the potential penalty is ten years and a fine of $20,000 or three times the value of the property damaged.
CONTACT A MICHIGAN ARSON DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Arson of any type or degree is a serious criminal charge. You deserve an experienced defense team that will review all evidence and determine the best course of action. We effectively advocate for our clients at each step of the judicial process.
The prosecution has the burden of proving the elements of arson beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the prosecution must prove that you burned or attempted to burn the property. Additionally, the prosecution must prove that you maintained the requisite intent. Our experienced legal team will review the facts and could potentially cast doubt on the prosecution’s version of events, demonstrate that you did not act with the requisite intent, or prove that the fire occurred without your involvement.
If you or someone you know has been accused of arson, you need to take action to give yourself the best opportunity to achieve a favorable result. Our team takes a proactive approach in confronting the charges against our clients.