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What is the Law on Arson in West Virginia and What are the Punishments for it?

Arson laws vary in each state depending upon the original legislation and subsequent amendments brought in by governments. Sometimes there are ridiculous contradictions in the laws of even neighboring states. However, there are several federals with airtight statutes which enable federal prosecutors to tide over such anomalies.

A great example of quoted by professors of law and students alike is the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996. Although it was introduced to the Congress on 19 June 1996, the Senate committee recommended for improvements. Finally, President Bill Clinton signed the act on 03 July 1996 after both the houses of Congress approved it. The act stipulated for jail terms from ten years to twenty years for persons found guilty.

West Virginia Arson Law

West Virginia law classifies arson into four as detailed out below:

First-degree arson in West Virginia: Setting fire to or causing to burn by other means or procuring, inciting, soliciting aiding, enticing or counseling any vacant, occupied or unoccupied structure fit for dwelling qualifies as arson of a first degree. The property may or may not belong to the guilty.

Punishment for first-degree arsonin West Virginia: A prison term not less than two years but not exceeding twenty. Irrespective of the actual prison term, the offender shall not be eligible for prior for the first two years.     

Second-degree arson in West Virginia: The criteria for deciding the guiltiness of having committed the crime or having taken part is the same as that of first-degree arson. The actual offense includes all structures or buildings which are not included in first-degree arson.

Arson Law

Punishment for second-degree arson in West Virginia: A prison term not less than one year but not exceeding ten. Irrespective of the actual prison term, the offender shall not be eligible for prior for the first year.      

Third-degree arson in West Virginia: Setting fire to or causing to burn by other means or procuring, inciting, soliciting aiding, enticing or counseling any vacant, occupied or unoccupied structure belonging to another person or persons fit for dwelling and valued at less than $500 qualifies as arson of a third degree.

Punishment for third-degree arson in West Virginia: A prison term not less than one year but not exceeding three. Irrespective of the actual prison term, the offender shall not be eligible for prior for the first year.      

Fourth-degree arson in West Virginia: Attempting to Set fire to or cause to burn by other means or procuring, inciting, soliciting aiding, enticing or counseling any vacant, occupied or unoccupied structure belonging to another person or persons fit for dwelling qualifies as arson of a fourth degree. The property may or may not belong to the guilty.

Arson Law West Virginia

Punishment for fourth-degree arson in West Virginia: A prison term not less than one year but not exceeding two. Irrespective of the actual prison term, the offender shall not be eligible for prior for the first year.  

Additional punishment for fourth-degree arson: In addition to the compulsory jail term, the presiding judge can also impose a fine not exceeding $2500.    

There are other common instances which also come under arson of lesser degrees. They cab broadly explained below:

  • Insurance arson: Burning insured property.
  • Setting fire to natural growth, straw or fences in lands.
  • Causing bodily injuries not resulting in death during an act that qualifies as arson.

# Reimbursement of costs to the fire department.

In addition to all of the punishments detailed out above, a judge can order the offender to reimburse the actual costs incurred by the fire department for the rescue operations. The costs are calculated by taking into account the actual costs for operating infrastructure along with the individual costs if any incurred by the personnel involved. 

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