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

Arson is a serious criminal offense, is an intentional act of unlawfully causing a fire which in turn damages life and property. Mostly considered as a felony, in some rare cases Arson may also be prosecuted as a form of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor or destruction of property.

In the State of Minnesota, the Laws about Arson are codified under Section 609 of the Minnesota Statutes. Minnesota recognizes five degrees of Arson, each carries a serious penalty and each one of them is prescribed a different punishment. 

First Degree Arson in Minnesota

Cited in Section 609-561 of the Minnesota Statutes, first-degree Arson is defined as the criminal act of intentionally destroying in part or in full, any one of the following:

  • Any dwelling or building appurtenant to a dwelling by use of fire and explosives, irrespective of the presence of occupants in the said dwelling or building.
Minnesota Arson Law
  • Any building other than a dwelling where the perpetrator is aware that the building is occupied by someone who is not a part of the crime, at the time of committing the Arson. This includes awareness of circumstances wherein the presence of such an occupant is a reasonable possibility.
  • Any building other than a dwelling where flammable material is utilized to initiate or accelerate a fire. Combustible material includes readily combustible material, self-reacting material that undergoes heated combustion and wetted explosives.

The aforesaid statute deems first-degree arson as a felony punishable by a maximum prison term of 20 years with or without a maximum fine of $20,000.  If the perpetrator of Arson is found to be aware of the occupancy of the building at the time of the offense, the penalty may increase to $35,000.

Second Degree Arson in Minnesota

Cited in Section 609-562 of the Minnesota Statutes, second-degree arson is defined as the criminal act of intentionally destroying in part or in full, any one of the following:

  • Any building other than those stipulated in the laws for 1st-degree arson, regardless of value;
Arson Law
  • Any property is valuing at least $1,000, whether owned by a person or otherwise.

The statute above deems 2nd-degree arson as a felony. Any perpetrator found guilty, is punishable by a maximum prison term of 10 years with or without a maximum fine of $20,000.

Third Degree Arson in Minnesota

Cited in Section 609-563 of the Minnesota Statutes, third-degree arson is defined as the criminal act of destroying in part or in full, any one of the following:

  • Any property that is intended to be destroyed and bears a valuation between $300 and $1,000.
  • Any property of value no less than $300, which is unintentionally destroyed or damaged, but such destruction or damage was reasonably foreseeable.
  • Any of the properties described above as notified under 3rd-degree arson, bearing a cumulative value of at least $300.

The statute mentioned above deems 3rd-degree arson as a felony. Any perpetrator found guilty, is punishable by a maximum prison term of 5 years with or without a maximum fine of $10,000.

Arson Law Minnesota

Fourth Degree Arson in Minnesota

Cited in Section 609-5631 of the Minnesota Statutes, 4th-degree arson is defined as the criminal act of destroying in part or in full, any one of the following:

  • Any personal property in a public housing or multiple unit residential building.
  • Any building which does not qualify under first, second or third-degree arson.

The aforesaid statute deems 4th-degree arson a gross misdemeanor wherein the guilty is/are punishable by a prison term of one year and no more than $3,000 in fines.

Fifth Degree Arson in Minnesota

Cited in Section 609-5632 of the Minnesota Statutes, 5th-degree arson is defined as the criminal act of destroying in part or in full, any real or personal property, by use of fire or explosives.

5th-degree arson is stipulated as a misdemeanor carrying a conviction with a maximum jail term of 90 days with or without a fine of $1,000.

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