What is the Law on Arson in New Hampshire and What are the Punishments for It?
Arson is an act of deliberately setting fire to a building or property. When someone willfully or deliberately sets fire to a building or property to cause damage or destruction, it is known as Arson. There are various aspects related to Arson that are defined in the laws. The laws pertaining to Arson in the state of New Hampshire is explained in this article.
Arson in New Hampshire
In the state of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Revised Statutes 634.1 deals with Arson. In the state of New Hampshire, the act of Arson is not graded under different degree, but the punishment varies depending upon the nature of the act and its impact.
Arson in the state of New Hampshire is defined as an act done by a person who knowingly starts a fire or causes an explosion which unlawfully damages the property of another.
As we can see from this, the definition of Arson in New Hampshire is very simple, clear and straightforward. It involves the following elements:
- Knowingly – This indicates that the act of Arson is done knowing that it would cause damage and is hence malicious. Any setting of fire unknowingly can be an exception under this law.
- Starting a fire or causing an explosion – A fire can be started when someone lights a fire or does any act that leads to a fire being lit. Creating an explosion either using explosives or any other method can also lead to a fire. Doing either of this is Arson.
- Unlawful – The word unlawful indicates that the fire is set illegally. A fire lit legally or an explosion caused legally, like to bring down a building is hence exempt under this law.
- Damages – Fire causes damage. It can be partial or can even lead to the complete destruction of a property. Causing damage would lead to a conviction under this act.
- Property of another – Any kind of property has covered the act, that belongs to someone else.
- The punishment for Arson is based on a classification of the act as a felony or misdemeanor.
Arson is a Class A felony is a property damaged is an occupied structure where people stay, and this known by the arsonist or if it were a historic structure.
Arson is a Class B felony if the act was done to collect insurance, irrespective of whether the property belongs to the person causing the Arson or someone else. It is also a Class B felony if the act of Arson recklessly creates danger for anyone of death or injury. When real estate is damaged, or Arson creates a loss of more than $1000, it would be considered a Class B felony.
Any other act of Arson other than what is defined in the law specifically would be considered as a misdemeanor.
Punishment under the law
In the state of New Hampshire, Arson is punished based on the categorization of the felony.
Arson that is a class A felony would lead to imprisonment for at least seven and a half years to a maximum of fifteen years and a fine of up to $4,000 with up to 5 years probation.
Arson that is a class B felony would lead to imprisonment for at least three and a half years to a maximum of seven years and a fine of up to $4,000 with up to 5 years probation.
Arson that is a misdemeanor would lead to imprisonment for at least one year and a fine of up to $2,000 with probation.