Arson is a charge that most do not think about much. In terms of criminal cases, we tend to consider the more visible charges like murder, assault, or white-collar crimes. However, arson charges substantially affect the victims and those accused of it. Depending on the circumstances of the case, if you are charged with arson, you may face a wide array of penalties, some more severe than others. No matter the degree of offense, the penalties associated with a conviction can substantially impact the lives of your family, friends, and loved ones. This article will discuss arson, its penalties, and what to do if you have been charged with arson in Michigan.
Experienced Arson Representation In Michigan
If you have been charged with arson, you must act quickly to protect your rights and interests. Before you go to trial, it is crucial that you take the steps necessary to solidify your defense and mitigate the consequences of a potential conviction. When you face criminal proceedings, the odds are often stacked against you. The criminal justice system is designed to obtain convictions and hold the accused accountable at all costs and expenses. Usually, the goal of getting a conviction overshadows the purpose of criminal cases: to find the truth and hold those truly accountable responsible. The blind pursuit of a conviction can cause the prosecution and the rest of the court to overlook evidence and arguments right in front of them, leading to convictions that may not be true.
Handling criminal cases alone can increase the chances that the prosecution bulldozes your position, pushing for a conviction when that conviction is improper. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that your rights are respected and your case heard. George Law criminal defense attorneys believe you deserve a fair trial and are ready to represent you. To learn more or schedule your free initial case consultation, call 248-247-7459 or visit our website today.
Arson is the destruction of structures or property regardless of ownership or occupancy (as applicable to dwellings). Each of the five degrees of arson has different penalties, depending on the elements the prosecution must prove.
First Degree Arson
First-degree arson is the intentional burning, damage, destruction, or explosion of the following regardless of whether occupied or not:
- A structure that contains at least one dwelling unit
- A structure that has been or could be used as habitable space (dwelling)
- Any building or structure where a person is injured
- A mine
You may be charged with arson whether you own the structure and its contents. First-degree arson is a felony, for which you may face life in prison and fines up to $20,000 or three times the property’s value—whichever is greater—or both.
Second Degree Arson
Second-degree arson is the intentional burning, destruction, or explosion of dwellings and their contents not covered by first-degree arson, regardless of its occupation or ownership. Second-degree arson is a felony, punishable by up 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, or three times the value of the property destroyed—whichever is greater—or both.
Third Degree Arson
The definition of third-degree arson relies on the same definitions as above for first- and second-degree arson. However, third-degree arson applies:
- To any other structures not covered by first or second-degree arson, its contents, regardless of ownership and occupancy
- Personal property value $20,000 or more, or
- Personal property $1,000 or more if you have one or more prior convictions.
Third-degree arson is a felony, with convictions punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, or three times the value of the property destroyed—whichever is greater—or both.
Fourth Degree Arson
Fourth-degree arson relies on the definition above but applies to:
- Personal property valued between $1,000 and $20,000, or
- Personal property is valued at $200 or more if you have prior convictions.
Fourth-degree arson also prohibits the intentional or negligent burning of woods, prairies, or grounds owned by another person that results in damage. Fourth-degree arson convictions are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine or three times the value of the property destroyed—whichever is greater—or both.
Fifth Degree Arson
Fifth-degree arson prohibits the destruction or burning of personal property valued at less than $1,000 by anyone with one or more prior convictions, regardless of who owns the property. Fifth-degree arson is a felony punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine or three times the value of the property destroyed—whichever is greater—or both.
What To Do If You Are Charged With Arson In Michigan
Arson charges are serious, no matter the degree. If you have been charged with arson in Michigan, you must hire an experienced arson attorney as soon as possible. In criminal proceedings, time can make all the difference. An experienced attorney will have more opportunities to mount a defense against your charges. George Law criminal defense attorneys are committed to providing you with the representation and attention your case deserves.
Hiring A Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
When you need skilled criminal defense representation, contact George Law. George Law criminal defense attorneys understand the law, process, and stakes and are ready to represent you. To learn more or schedule your free initial case consultation, call 248-247-7459 or visit our website today.