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What is the Law on Arson in Kentucky, and what are the Punishments for it?

The Kentucky Penal Code notifies Arson as a felony and legally prohibits any and every act of intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion that destroys or damages a building.

The Kentucky Statute 513.010 elaborates on the term building, wherein apart from its ordinary meaning, the definition is inclusive of other structures too and specifies them as any dwelling, trailer, sleeping car, railroad car, structure with a valid certificate of occupancy, hotel, automobile, truck, watercraft, aircraft, trailer, commercial structure or other structure or vehicle.

Trial Proceedings for Arson review a person's intent, the magnitude of damage caused, and the incidence of injuries or fatalities as a consequence of the crime. The offender may even face several arson charges based on the nature of the offense.

The State of Kentucky identifies three degrees of Arson and also cites a specific statute for Arson committed to defraud an insurer. Given below is a brief go through for the relevant laws to understand the criteria and punishments of the said offense better.

Kentucky Arson Law

KRS 513.020 – Arson in the first degree

The offense of Arson in the first degree is a Class A felony, and it is expressed as an intentional act to destroy or damage a building by causing an explosion or fire wherein:

  1. The offender commits the crime knowing that the building may be inhabited or occupied or the building is inhabited or occupied.
  2. A person other than the offender bears serious physical injury due to the offense or the subsequent firefighting. Serious physical injury is specified in KRS 500.080 as any physical injury that generates a substantial risk of death, causes serious and prolonged disfigurement, prolonged loss or impairment of the function of a bodily organ or protracted impairment of health.

Being a Class A Felony, Arson in the 1st degree is punishable by 20 to 50 years imprisonment.

Arson Law

KRS 513.030 – Arson in the second degree

The offense of Arson in the second degree is a Class B felony and it is expressed as an intentional and unlawful act to destroy or damage a building by causing an explosion or fire wherein:

  1. Another owns the building
  2. The building owned by the offender or another is subject to Arson to collect or facilitate the collection of insurance proceeds applicable to such a loss.

Being a Class B Felony, Arson in the 2nd degree is punishable by 10 to 20 years imprisonment.

The two statutory defenses for the said offense are:

  1. Only the defendant has any possessory or proprietary interest in the building, else the others bearing such rights had unanimously consented to the defendant’s conduct.
  2. The intent of causing fire or explosion is undeniably lawful.
Arson Law Kentucky

KRS 513.040 – Arson in the third degree

The offense of Arson in the third degree is a Class D felony, and it is expressed as an intentional and wanton act to destroy or damage a building by causing an explosion or fire. For the purpose of this statute, a person is deemed to have acted wantonly when he or she is aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risk which is inseparable from the fire or explosion and consciously chooses to disregards it.

Being a Class D Felony, Arson in the 3rd degree is punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment.

KRS 513.040 – Burning personal property to defraud an insurer

The offense of burning personal property to defraud insurer degree is a Class D felony, and it is expressed as an intentional act to defraud or injure an insurer by causing or insinuating an explosion or fire that damages or destroys personal property

Being a Class D Felony, the said crime is punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment.


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