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What is the Law on Arson in Montana 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. 

The code of Montana puts Arson under offenses against property

The code MT Code § 45-6-101 (2017) specifies acts of criminal mischief that come under offenses against property. An alleged person is said to commit criminal mischief when
  • They harm or damage any property of another person or public property without their consent
  • They intentionally damage property with the purpose of deceiving an insurer (fraudulent nature)
Montana Arson Law

The punishment is based around the following guidelines:

  • The essence of the penalty for criminal mischief is in the restitution of the damage. The court determines the manner and amount of restitution of the act while keeping in mind the ability of the convicted person to make such restitution. The court can modify a previous order of restitution if the convicted person shows evidence of good cause for his inabilities to make the payment of the given manner or amount. The person convicted can be released only after the full payment of the ordered restitution.
  • The convicted person shall be asked to pay a fine not exceeding $1500 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both.
  • If the offender kills a domesticated animal or causes significant impairment in transport, communication, or even supply of public services like food, water, electricity etc, the fine limit can exceed till an amount of $50,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years or both.
Arson Law

The code MT Code § 45-6-102 (2017) convicts an individual of ‘negligent arson’ when
  • The person purposely start a fire or explosion on their own or someone else’s property
  • They place a person in danger of death or injury, including the firemen present at the location
  • They place the property in danger of destruction

The punishment for a negligent arson is a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment of up to 6 months or both. If the act placed another person in danger of death or injury, the offender shall be ordered a fine not exceeding $50000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years or both.

Arson Law Montana

The code MT Code § 45-6-103 (2017) convicts an individual of arson when the ‘knowingly’ use a fire or explosion to
  • damages a structure or vehicle of another person without consent
  • damages personal property, except a vehicle, exceeding $1500 in value of another person without consent
  • damages a crop-pasture or forest of another person without consent
  • damages any real property of another person without consent
  • damages any structure, vehicle, personal property, crop-pasture, forest or property of their own possession, or when they hold proprietary interest in it, for the purpose of selfish gain or fraud
  • place any person, including a firefighter, in danger of death or injury

The punishment for the convicted person is a fine not exceeding $50,000 or imprisonment up to 20 years or both.

The specifics of any case are more complicated, and so is the evidence for showing the nature or purpose of fire, and the intention of the alleged individual, which does make arson a sensitive subject.

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