What is the Law on Arson in Vermont and what are the Punishments for it?
The term Arson refers to setting a person’s property on fire willfully. The property may include buildings or any other personal belongings such as cars, motorbike, etc. Insurance fraud is one of the most common reasons for a person to commit arson. In such cases, the person sets his own property on fire to claim the insurance amount.
The degree of punishment for a person committing arson increases if human life was at risk at the time of the crime. An arsonist is a term for a person committing arson. Usually, arson is committed using a substance such as petrol, kerosene or any such ignitable substance and fire investigations are done by identifying these ignitable residues.
After a fire is extinguished by the firefighters, a detailed investigation is launched in the site where the fire took place. The first question to be solved at the site is whether the incident was part of a crime or it was an accident. It is difficult to determine this, as fire destroys all evidence.
The remains left after a fire is studied in detail to understand the causes that led to the fire. The person who investigates should be well versed in many disciples. Most often the investigators have to work closely with forensic engineers and other experts to draw a conclusion.
If the property was set on fire by an arsonist then the possibility of using a substance to speed up the burning is high. The investigators look for remains of these substances to confirm that the crime was committed by an arsonist.
When it comes to arson, another important aspect is spoliation. This term means destroying evidence and this may be done intentionally or unknowingly. A simple act such as extinguishing the fire may destroy the necessary evidence. This may even end up making the scene of arson look like a crime scene because of the altered evidence.
The US has some common laws for arson but the individual states to have their own set of laws. Most states don’t look to see if the place being burnt down was in fact an occupied space or not. They just see if it was burnt down unlawfully. In countries such as Scotland, arson is not an offense as such.
It is dealt along with a variety of offenses such as vandalism, reckless conduct, etc., or any such offense depending on the circumstance under which the crime was committed. Based on the seriousness of the crime, the imprisonment term can extend up to life imprisonment.
There are three degrees of arson in Vermont:
- The third degree is the lowest degree of arson. If a person burns a place which has been abandoned, such as an abandoned field, forest or dwelling area such an abandoned house, etc.
- The second degree of arson includes burning a building or any area that is unoccupied. This is usually done for the purpose of getting the insurance amount.
- The first degree of arson, which is also the highest degree, includes burning property with people in it and endangering their lives.
The punishments for arson vary based on the degree. The punishments for arson in Vermont are:
- A person who has committed third-degree arson can be sentenced for imprisonment from three to five years or fined up to a sum of $500.00 or both.
- A person who has committed second-degree arson can be imprisoned for a period of one to five years or can be fined up to $1,000.00 or both.
- A person who has committed first-degree arson can be imprisoned from two to ten years or fined up to $2,000.00 or both.