What is the Law on Arson in Hawaii and What are the Punishments for it?
Arson, as you would probably know is an act of setting fire intentionally to another person’s property. Arson or ‘criminal mischief’ around the globe is dealt stringently and has come to be a felony. In Hawaii, arson is considered an Index offense, part I of which requires an immediate arrest. Burglary and theft are other examples of Index offenses. Part II offense includes offenses causing manslaughter due to negligence.
Arson happens to be the costliest crime in America. The Las Vegas Hilton Hotel fire in 1981 incurred $10 million worth damages and left 198 people injured while the fire Stouffer Inn of New York in 1980 claimed 26 lives.
State statics released every year in Hawaii show that the average arson damages per incident are almost double compared to that from other property crimes such as robbery, burglary, and larceny. Setting fire is the easiest way of letting out one’s anger but what people don’t realize is the consequence and the monetary loss associated with such activities.
Hawaii released some details in its reports every year basis the investigation data and highlighted what led the arsonists to take such dire actions. Let us look at some of these reasons:
- Vandalism – It was found that a large number of fires were initiated by youngsters and the most common infrastructure they targeted included churches, vacant buildings or schools. The expenses incurred in such incidents makes more than 25% of the total annual losses.
- Insurance frauds – Investigators in Hawaii and across the US have confirmed that this white-collar crime mounts to 15% of arson-related accidents. Such incidents typically occur in apartments, homes or automobiles with an intent to seek benefits from the insurance agencies. Such causes are difficult to prove as the evidence in such cases gets inadvertently destroyed by the firefighters in an attempt to douse the fire.
- Revenge – Seeking revenge by destroying the property makes up around 23% of the arson crime rate as listed by the statisticians. Labor unrest in factories and strikes leads to such happenstance which further results in huge losses to the business owners. Another category of arson is for religious, political or racial factors. Investigators have reported that the loss of human lives in such instances is more than that caused due to any other arson-related reasons.
Extensive use of BATS:
Hawaii law on arson investigation requires the investigators to make use of the Bomb Arson Tracking System which is an online system used for accessing explosive and arson-related data from across the country. The data helps investigators in getting as on date information such as the components being used in the incendiary devices, the placement of such devices, losses, description of fire caused, witness statements and also how the devices were created and/or transported/ delivered. Such data helps in getting similarities in the cases and helps in closing the investigations.
Arson Penalties in Hawaii:
Hawaii has always kept its laws updated and revised the penalties under section 706-606.2. Below is the updated list of additional penalties that were incorporated in recent years:
Fire set in open fields and vegetation requires the arsenal to:
- Bear the extinguishing costs including salary, benefits, and overtime of the firefighters
- Equipment maintenance
- Materials used or lost or damaged while controlling fire
- All restitution costs depending upon the financial capability of the convicted individual and the mode of payment
- Perform community services
In cases where the convict is a minor, all financial penalties will be borne by the minor’s legal guardians.
Hawaii also revised its guidelines related to concealment, suppression, and destruction of physical evidence which may misrepresent the truth. Falsification of evidence is a misdemeanor and a person found doing so for arson will be also be persecuted under 710 penal code (Offences against public administration).