First Degree Arson
First degree arson is a felony that is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. First Degree Arson is the burning of a dwelling or other occupied structure. Dwelling in generally understood to mean any building that has been used for sleeping overnight. The meaning of structure, that must be occupied to fall within the ambit of First Degree Arson, is more expansive. The structure definition includes a vehicle, boat or tent.
Second Degree Arson
First Degree arson punishes the burning of a dwelling, and a non-dwelling structure, only where that structure is occupied. Second degree arson punishes the burning of any structure, whether or not occupied. Either degree of arson requires proof of malice, which requires a showing the fire was intentionally set, and evidencing a disregard for the safety of others.
Threat of Arson
Maryland’s arson laws also pertain to other less serious crimes, including the threat of arson. Any verbal or written threat to explode, burn, or set fire to a structure is a misdemeanor that has a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.
If you have been charged with, or are currently under investigation for arson, or lesser offenses like malicious burning, it’s imperative to quickly seek the assistance of qualified counsel. I've handled hundreds of criminal prosecutions over the years. Contact me today to schedule a free discussion, analysis, and legal opinion on your case.