No matter where a fire occurs, it can have devastating effects on property and the lives of others. Unfortunately, there are many cases where fires are a result of arson. Arson is a very serious property crime that does not solely cause the destruction of property but can also end with injury and the loss of life. Because of the high stakes of the crime, state laws that outlaw arson have strict penalties. Keep in mind that Virginia law is in accordance with this practice. To learn more about the state of Virginia’s arson laws and associated penalties, read on and reach out to our skilled Richmond criminal defense attorney today. We are on your side.
How does the state of Virginia define arson?
Virginia splits arson offenses into several different categories. In addition to crimes that concern the actual arsonist, the law also includes provisions for aiding and abetting. This indicates that even if you didn’t strike a match or enter the scene of the crime, you can be penalized to the same extent as the actual arsonist because you encouraged or assisted with the offense.
Arson offenses include the following acts:
- Burning of a dwelling house
- Burning or destruction of a meeting house
- Burning or destruction of a structure
- Burning of personal property
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding arson in Virginia, it is in your best interest to reach out to our firm today. We are here to help.
What are the consequences of arson?
- Burning of “dwelling house” (this includes homes, manufactured homes, and places of lodging):
- Elements of the crime: The charged caused the burning (a slight burning is sufficient) of a dwelling house with criminal intent.
- Penalty: Occupied structure: punishable by 5 years to life in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000. Unoccupied: punishable by 2-10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000.
- Malicious burning of “meeting house” (refers to courthouses, townhouses, colleges, churches, jails, etc):
- Penalty: Occupied structure: The punishment is 5-20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000. Unoccupied: punishable by 2-10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000.
- Malicious burning of other structures (structures not covered in the other statutes):
- Penalty: Occupied building: 5-20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000. Unoccupied: punishable by 2-10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000.
- Burning/destroying personal property: burning or destroying (maliciously or with the intent to defraud an insurance company or other person) another’s personal property.
- The property value of $200 or more is categorized as a class 4 felony.
- The property value of less than $200 is a class 1 misdemeanor.
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