What is the Law on Arson in Missouri and What are the Punishments for it?
The world is growing stranger every day and the so is the crime scene across it. Unfortunately, humans have grown new forms of aggression. The crime of arson involves willingly setting fire to someone’s property with the intent of destroying it. FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program reported more than 49,000 cases of arson in 2010. During 2010-2014, reported arson of around 29,000 leading to 440 civilian deaths, 1310 civilian injuries and property damage of more than $1 billion.
Under the law of Missouri, there are three degrees of arson and three other types, depending on the purpose of burning the building, whether it was intentional or reckless, and if there were any persons in the building at the time of the fire. Depending on these factors, the punishment can be anywhere between 15 days to 15 years of imprisonment. The punishment also requires the convicted person to pay a certain amount to the victims.
- Willfully executes the act of burning
- Starting the fire a person is in the building and hence putting them in danger of death or injury
- The fire is started with the intention to produce methamphetamine
- It is a class B felony hence punishable with imprisonment of up to 15 years
- It is a class A felony if the victim’s injury is serious or the victim dies, due to the fire or methamphetamine release, and can lead to life imprisonment.
- Willingly damaging a building with a fire or explosion
- The exception is considered if no other person has any personal or proprietary interest in the building except the alleged person or the building is destroyed with a lawful purpose
- It is a class D felony hence punishable with imprisonment of up to 4 years.
- It is a class B felony if the victim’s injury is serious or the victim dies, hence punishable with imprisonment up to 15 years.
Third Degree Arson(Section 569-053): Any crime is labeled under this statue when
- Willfully starting a fire or explosion
- Recklessly damaging or destroying a building
- It is considered to be a class A misdemeanor, hence punishable by imprisonment up to 1 year or a fine of $2,000 or both.
The above-given statues are direct crimes against property while the following come underburning or exploding offenses.
- Knowingly burning or exploding(Section 055): Any crime is labeled under this statue when the alleged person knowingly causes a fire or explosion to damage or destroy another person’s property. It is a class E felony hence punishable with an imprisonment of up to 4 years.
- Reckless burning or exploding(Section 060): Any crime is labeled under this statue when the alleged person recklessly causes a fire or explosion to damage or destroy another person’s property. It is a class B misdemeanor hence punishable with an imprisonment of up to 6 months or a fine up to $1000 or both.
- Negligent burning or exploding (Section 569-065): Any crime is labeled under this statue when the alleged individual acts with criminal negligence and destroys/damages another person’s property or any kind of land. It is a class B misdemeanor hence punishable with an imprisonment of up to 15 days or a fine up to $750 or both.
The specifics of any case are more complicated, and so is the evidence for showing the nature or purpose of fire, which does make arson a sensitive case area.