What is the Law on Arson in Ohio and What are the Punishments for it?
Arson in legal terms is defined as an act when a person intentionally sets fire to another person’s property or home. The definition of arson also varies from state to state in the US. In some states, if a person intentionally burns his property with malicious intent (e.g., to claim house insurance), then such an act is also considered as arson.
Arson law is the US
Some violations and crimes are charged under both federal and state charges, and arson happens to be one of them. If a person is charged for a felony in the federal court, the penalty could be severe, especially if life is endangered in such an act. There are times when we do not realize that we are on federal property.
In the US, there are many areas which qualify as maritime or fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction. An arson act in such areas (which covers a large portion in the US) results in a federal crime under 18 US Code section 81. A person who is tried for federal offenses can face dire consequences.
Elements of Arson
A fire resulting in arson is said to have been committed if the following are proven:
- Malicious intent
- To another person’s belonging
In the state of Ohio, a person is proven guilty when the state is able to prove a willful act:
- Of causing physical harm to another person's property
- Of causing physical harm to another person's property or your own property with a malicious intent such as to defraud
- Of causing physical harm to the property owned by the Government or that of the State
Degrees of Arson
Depending upon the circumstances under which the arson has taken place and the damages caused by it thereafter, every state has defined a certain degree which helps in classifying the crime appropriately. The degrees of arson include:
- First degree – When an unoccupied building or a home is set on fire
- Second degree – When an abandoned or an empty place is set on fire
- Third degree – When an open space like a field is set on fire
Punishments, penalties, and sentences for arson in Ohio
In Ohio, the law has described an occupied structure which includes a building, a house, a watercraft, an outbuilding, a truck or trailer, vehicle or railroad car or a shelter. If the crime is committed in such a place, then the person is charged with aggravated arson irrespective that there may or may not be human physical harm.
Below are the criminal consequences of arson in Ohio:
- Property damage of less than $500: 180 days of imprisonment or $1000 fine. Such a crime is also categorized as a misdemeanor.
- Property damage of more than $500: 6 – 18 months of imprisonment and $5000 fine. Such a crime is also categorized as a felony.
- Intention to defraud: 6 – 18 months of imprisonment and $5000 fine. Such a crime is also categorized as a felony.
- An agreement between the owner and the arsonist to defraud: 1 – 5 years of imprisonment and $10,000 fine. Such a crime is also categorized as a felony in the 3rd
- Arson to a property or an occupied structure: 2-8 years of imprisonment and/or $15000 fine. Such a crime is categorized as a felony in the 2nd
Additionally, an arsonist will also pay back the costs involved in investigating and dousing the fire. The Ohio law clearly states that such expenses are a debt of the arsonist. In some cases, the convicted person may also be liable to pay the property damage costs as well.