This week, wildfires are spreading across seven southern states. Tens of thousands of acres have burned. Many people have had to evacuate their homes as there are about a dozen fires that still remain uncontrolled without rain in sight. While the full reason for each of the fires is unknown, many are suspecting it started with humans.
For the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, the reason for some of the fires is arson. According to ABC news, two people have been arrested for arson this week. Johnny Mullis, 21, of Kentucky was one of the individuals who admitted to starting a fire as an attempt to draw attention to his selfie video on Facebook.
Another is Andrew Scott Lewis who was charged with setting fires and vandalism which caused more than $250,000 worth of damage.
What is Arson?
Arson is the criminal act of deliberately or willfully setting fire to property. There are three different categories of arson:
- Arson that involves houses, houses of worship, and occupied buildings
- Intentional fires involving unoccupied buildings or cars
- An intentional fire that is set to personal property
The State of Michigan has different categories for arson that qualify how serious the consequences are for those convicted. Convictions and penalties will be based on the circumstances on the case and is based specifically on the amount of damage that was done.
- First Degree Arson – When a person willfully or maliciously burns damages or destroys by fire or explosives any: multi unit building, structure, real property that results in physical injury to any person.
- Second Degree Arson – When a person willfully or maliciously burns, damages, or destroys by fire or explosives a dwelling, regardless of whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacate at the time.
- Third Degree Arson – When a person willfully r maliciously burns, damages or destroyed by fire or explosives a dwelling regardless if it is occupied or not with damages more than $20,000 or has a prior conviction of property damage of over $1,000.
- Fourth Degree Arson – When a person willfully and maliciously burns, damages, or destroyed by fire or explosives property have a value of $1,000 – $20,000. A prior conviction with having property damage over $200 or more. In addition, willfully or negligently sets fire to a woods, prairie, or grounds that caused damage.
- Fifth Degree Arson – A person damaging property of a value of $1,000 or less and who has 1 or more prior convictions.
Punishment for Arson in Michigan
- First Degree Arson – Felony Charge. Convicted person can face up to life in prison and/or a fine of $20,000 or three times the value of the property damage or destroyed.
- Second Degree Arson – Felony Charge. Convicted person can face up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $20,000 or three times the value of the property value.
- Third Degree Arson – Felony Charge. Convicted person can face up to 10 years in prison and or a fine of up to $20,000 or three times the value of the property.
- Fourth Degree Arson – Felony Charge. Convicted person can face up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000 or three times the value of the property damage.
- Fifth Degree Arson – Misdemeanor Charge. A convicted person can face up to a 1 year in prison and or a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the property damaged.
Seek Professional Help
If you or a loved one is facing arson charges, it is important to seek out experienced legal advice. The State of Michigan has strong punishments for arson crimes. It is our goal to make sure that nobody has to face unjust punishments for their crimes. Please call us today.
Let’s start fighting for your rights.