Arson Charges and Penalties In Missouri: A Complete Guide

If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of arson, you probably have questions about arson charges and penalties in Missouri. Here’s what you need to know.


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What You Need to Know About Arson Charges In Missouri

Facing arson charges can be a nightmare. The law frowns at those who set fire to other people’s houses or property. Because of the seriousness of fire incidents, there are severe penalties for anyone who is convicted of deliberately setting fire to another person’s dwelling.

Arson Charges And Penalties In Missouri sectionTo be convicted of the crime of arson under Missouri laws, the prosecution must satisfy the court that the fire was a deliberate act of the accused and not the result of an accident. An experienced defense attorney can enlighten you more on the relevant laws.

Arson is any deliberate act that leads to the damage or destruction of a building, dwelling, or structure through the use of fire or explosives.

Under Missouri laws, however, there is a distinction between arson and burning. The distinction is based on the type of building, dwelling, or structure damaged by the fire.

Another distinction between arson and burning is that the former is considered a felony, while the latter is treated as a simple offense.

There are different categories of burning under Missouri law.

Section 569.055: Knowingly Burning—This crime is classified as a felony. The authorities can charge an accused with “knowingly burning” when he or she causes damage to another person’s non-habitable property.

Section 569.060: Reckless Burning/Exploding—This is a misdemeanor, and involves the accidental damage to someone’s property through the intentional and reckless use of explosives or fire.

Section 569.065: Negligent Burning/Exploding—This is also a misdemeanor and occurs when one accidentally damages another person’s house through the use of fire and explosives.

Arson Penalties in Missouri

The FBI statistics show that in 2019, about 33,199 arsons were reported in the United States. About 42% of these involved properties and other structures.

Arson Penalties in MissouriThere are three categories of arson depending on the seriousness of the crime. Each category has its own set of penalties. The more serious the offense, the stiffer the punishment.

In determining the seriousness and penalty of an offense, the laws consider:

  • The intent of the accused person.
  • The type of property damaged by the fire.
  • The presence or absence of another person on the property.

The three classes of arson are:

  • Arson in the first degree.
  • Arson in the second degree.
  • Arson in the third degree.

If you are facing arson charges in Missouri, the attorneys at Carver & Associates can help you better understand what you are up against. Contact us now for a free consultation.

First-Degree Arson: What Is Arson In the First Degree?

Arson in the first degree involves intentionally damaging a building or inhabitable structure by fire when a person is in or near it. A person commits the offense of arson in the first degree by starting a fire or explosion and damaging a structure in an attempt to produce methamphetamine.

First Degree ArsonSetting fire to a house with the knowledge that another person is present or in near proximity is a Class B felony unless a person has died as a result of the fire. Where any person has suffered serious physical injury or has died, then the crime becomes a Class A felony.

In summary, this offense is for anyone who:

  • Knowingly damages a building or inhabitable structure when any person is present or in close proximity thereto by starting a fire and recklessly places such person in danger.
  • Starts a fire or explosion and thereby recklessly places another person in danger of death or serious physical injury.
  • Causes an explosion and damages a building or inhabitable structure as a result of a fire started in an attempt to produce methamphetamine.

While the penalty for a Class B felony is up to 15 years in prison, the penalty for a Class A felony is imprisonment for up to 30 years.

Second-Degree Arson: Damaging a Building or Inhabitable Structure

A person commits the offense of arson in the second degree when he or she knowingly damages a building or inhabitable structure of another by starting a fire or causing an explosion.

Second Degree ArsonTo be convicted for second-degree arson, the offender must not have the sole possessory, proprietary, or security interest in the damaged building. Also, where a defendant destroys a building by fire with the consent of the owners, then it is considered lawful.

In Missouri, the offense of arson in the second degree is a Class D felony where the fire incident did not cause death or serious physical injury. The penalty for a Class D felony is imprisonment for up to 7 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Third-Degree Arson: Causing a Fire or Explosion

Arson in the third degree is where a defendant causes a fire or explosion and thereby recklessly damages another person’s building or inhabitable structure. Arson in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a maximum of $2000. 

Many arson cases come with additional charges and penalties. Consult us today if you want to know the other classes of misdemeanors and felonies in Missouri and their penalties.

How an Arson Attorney Can Help You

Whenever there is a fire outbreak leading to property damage, investigations are carried out to eliminate any foul play. Where an explosion damages a building, the explosive squad comes in to investigate. The squad members are experts who are trained to investigate, detect, and examine the remote and immediate causes of fire outbreaks.

How an Arson Attorney Can Help YouIn the cause of their investigations, the squad can question anyone connected to the damaged property. Whatever you say may be used as evidence against you in court. Therefore, the right step to take when you are the subject of a fire investigation is to consult an experienced Springfield criminal defense attorney immediately.

There are several defenses under Missouri criminal law available to someone charged with the offense. At our law firm, our criminal defense attorneys will review the facts of the case and prepare your defense if the authorities decide to charge you.

A criminal charge of setting fire or causing an explosion to a building or structure can come with dire consequences if not handled well. This is even more so where someone died as a result of the fire or explosion started by you. For legal advice and more information on the offense, call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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