Arson Charges: Penalties and Defense in Michigan

Gavel depicting arson charges and defense Michigan

Did you know that arson is considered a violent crime, like murder or sexual assault in Michigan?

You could be looking at a prison sentence of up to 20 years if you deliberately set fire to someone’s property – even if it’s your own!

Adam York-Hutson of Saginaw, Michigan has been arraigned on an arson charge according to MLive. The fire that this 22-year-old set in November 2018:

  • Was limited to the front porch and just inside the front door of his father’s house
  • Did not cause any injuries – not even to the firefighters.

Despite these facts, York-Hutson is looking at:

  • A second-degree arson charge
  • Up to 20 years in prison,
  • $20,000 or up to three times the value of what was destroyed in fines.

Even though the word arson doesn’t usually conjure up images of a family dispute or domestic violence, that is allegedly how this crime started. More often, if you are from Detroit, you may think of arson in connection with dilapidated buildings and unsafe conditions.

However, arson is a complex charge, with varying degrees of severity – much like murder and sexual assault.

Arson Charges in Michigan

First-degree Arson

First-degree arson is defined as the willful or malicious burning of a multi-unit building where:

  • 1 or more units are dwellings
  • Any building where the fire results in physical injury or a mine.

It’s considered a felony in the state of Michigan and punishable by up to life in prison and up to three times the value of the property destroyed.

Second-degree Arson

Second-degree arson – which is the charge York-Hutson is facing – is defined as:

  • The willful or malicious burning of a dwelling or its contents.

Second-degree arson is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and three times the value of the property in fines.

Third-degree Arson

Third-degree arson is defined as:

  • Burning of a building or structure or any personal property valued above $2000

This classification of arson is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or up to three times the value of the property

Fourth and Fifth-Degree Arson

Fourth and Fifth-degree arson:

  • Do not involve willfully burning a building
  • However, personal property or negligently causing the burning of private property.

Both degrees are penalized according to the value of the property damaged or destroyed and carry sentences of up to 5 years in prison.

Fifth-degree arson is a misdemeanor, whereas fourth-degree arson is still a felony.

Arson of Insured Property

Michigan law makes distinctions between these and arson of insured property to defraud.

  • Arson of an Insured Dwelling is a felony punishable by up to life in prison.
  • Arson of Insured Real Property is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
  • Arson of Insured Person Property is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
  • Arson of Property up to $1000 in value, under $200 in value, carelessly setting fire to a hotel, and placing flammable materials with the intent to cause a fire are all types of arson as well and considered misdemeanors.

Under Michigan law, there’s no such thing as the legal burning of one’s own property. If you are caught doing this, you could be facing criminal charges.

Aggressive Criminal Attorney for Arson Charges in Michigan

If you are facing arson charges, realize that this crime is taken very seriously in the state of Michigan. You need an experienced criminal attorney to see you through your case.

Let’s start fighting for your rights.

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