What is Simple Arson?

What is Simple Arson?

Simple arson is defined as the intentional damage of property belonging to another, by any explosive substance or setting a fire, without the consent of the owner.

However, it is possible to be charged with arson even if the offender did not intend to commit the requisite offense. If the offender - while in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a felony offense - unintentionally causes an explosion or starts a fire, the offender shall also be charged with arson.

What is the law?

Criminal offenses of arson in Louisiana are as follows:

Aggravated Arson is the intentional damaging, by any explosive substance or the setting fire, to any structure, watercraft, or movable, when it is foreseeable that human life might be endangered.

Injury by Arson is the intentional damaging by any explosive substance or the setting fire to any structure, watercraft, or other movable belonging to another, if either:

  1. Any person suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement as a result of the fire or explosion; or,
  2. A firefighter, law enforcement officer, or first responder - who is present at the scene and acting in the line of duty - is injured as a result of the fire or explosion.

Simple Arson of a Religious Building is the intentional damaging, by any explosive substance or by setting fire of any church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place primarily used for religious worship or other religious purpose.

Negligent Arson is the damaging of any building by the setting of fire or causing an explosion, without consent of the owner or custodian of the building. Criminal negligence must cause the fire or the explosion.

What are the associated penalties?

The penalties for Simple Arson are dependent upon the amount of monetary damage caused.

Where the damage amounts to $500 or more:

  • A fine of no more than $15,000, and
  • Imprisonment at hard labor for no more than 15 years.
  • Where the damage amounts to less than $500:
  • A fine of no more than $2,500, and
  • Imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for no more than 5 years.

  • The penalties for Aggravated Arson and Injury by Arson are not dependent upon the amount of monetary damage caused. The range of penalties include imprisonment at hard labor for no less than 6 years but no more than 20 years, and a fine of no more than $25,000. Two years of the sentence shall be without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

    The penalties for Simple Arson of a Religious Building include a fine of no more than $15,000, and imprisonment at hard labor for no less than 2 years but no more than 15 years. Two years of the sentence shall be without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

    The penalties for Negligent Arson increase based on subsequent convictions.

    First Conviction
  • A fine of no more than $1,000, and
  • Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, or both.
  • Second Conviction
  • A fine of no more than $2,000, and
  • Imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for no more than 2 years.
  • *In addition, the offender shall be ordered to pay restitution for damages sustained.

    Where it is foreseeable that human life might be endangered:
  • A fine of no more than $3,000, and
  • Imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for no more than 3 years.
  • *In addition, the offender shall be ordered to pay restitution for damages sustained.

    When the crime of negligent arson results in death or serious bodily injury to a human being:
  • A fine of no more than $5,000, and
  • Imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for no more than 5 years.
  • *In addition, the offender shall be ordered to pay restitution for damages sustained.

    Defending Against Charges

    The crime of arson is typically used to disguise other serious crimes such as murder or insurance fraud.

    This makes arson cases harder to prove: these cases often require special fire investigators and analysts to help prove important aspects of the crime, such as the origin of the fire.

    The Norris Law Group, LLC has the skill set to navigate you through the legal system and provide you with an opportunity to fight the charges against you. If you or a loved one have recently been charged with arson in the Shreveport - Bossier area, Attorney Ebonee Norris and her team will work tirelessly to defend you.

    Take advantage of a confidential consultation by calling (318) 771-7000 today.

    Sources

    La. R.S. 14:52.
    La. R.S. 14:51.
    La. R.S. 14:51.1.
    La. R.S. 14:52.1.