What is the Law on Arson in Kansas and What are the Punishments for it?
People who not very well versed in law often tend to mistake destruction or mob violence to be arson. Although though they are all very serious crimes, they need not qualify as arson in front of a judicial officer.
Arson is generally defined as destroying movable or immovable properties using fire, instruments which may produce fire or an explosion. Kansas has very detailed and lengthy arson laws which are comprehensive and include many acts to ensure that the culprits don't get a chance to go scot-free during the trail.
Investigation Procedure of Offenses Covered By Arson Laws
- The case is handed over to the bomb and arson squad by the local police.
- Forensic examination by experts.
Kansas laws view arson as a felony which is further classified as a ‘non-person.' Now, what qualifies as a felony?
The quantum of punishment as stipulated by the law is the basic criteria for classifying a crime. If the offense can attract a sentence in a state prison not less than a year, then it is a felony. Crimes that are not of a very serious nature are called misdemeanors and not felonies.
The felony law further categorizes crimes based on their seriousness into various levels. They are also ranked as 'person felony' and 'non-person felony.' Arson is a very serious offense that falls under non-person felony.
The definition and punishment for arson are defined in KSA 21-3718 and KSA 21-3719. The amendments which were brought into the Kansas statutes in the year 2014 are included in chapter 21 titled, ‘Crimes and Punishments.' Furthermore, article 58 defines all crimes that involve the destruction of property while 21-5812 is for aggravated arson.
The punishments for proven acts of arson fall into four categories. However, it is worth noting that all sentences carry a minimum jail term of one year in addition to the other penalties imposed along with.
- Fines: In addition to the prison time, depending upon the gravity of the offense, fines starting from a few thousand dollars up to a hundred thousand dollars or more can be imposed.
- Probation: Unlike misdemeanor offenses, the conditions for probation are very strict in arson cases. The probation period can be anywhere from a few months to significantly long periods may be awarded. During the probation period, the offender cannot travel outside the state without prior permission and has to report regularly to a probation officer. Violating these conditions or committing another crime of any nature, can result in the probation getting revoked and the offender landing in jail.
- Restitution: Along with all or none of the above punishments, the judge can hand over a restitution order. This is considered as compensation to be paid to the individual or individuals whose properties were damaged by the perpetuator(s) of arson. In some cases, fire departments which were involved in damage control can also demand restitution.
- Prison: Most prison sentences for arson range from a minimum of one year to twenty years. At the same time, if the prosecution was able to prove in court that the offender had an intention to bring damage to a victim's life, the judge may award a life sentence.
Other than the sentence itself, being charged with statutes falling under arson laws has other repercussions. It shows up on the individual's criminal record as having committed a very serious offense. The nature of the crime itself may result in the offender being branded as a sociopath besides other usual social stigmas.
The advice of most people who are well versed with the law is to approach your lawyer immediately if any law enforcement officer approaches you with any matter regarding arson.