Arson is defined as the willful and malicious charring or burning of a structure or property. The property or structure can be a residential or commercial property. In Georgia, arson is broken into three degrees. Each degree has its own punishment.
What Is Arson in the First Degree in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, arson in the first degree is the crime of knowingly damaging property or aiding, encouraging, counseling, hiring, abetting, or advising another person to damage property by means of explosives or fire. The property in question must be a structure wherein it is reasonably foreseeable that arson would cause an endangerment to human life or an occupied, unoccupied, or vacant dwelling:
- Belonging to someone else
- In which another person has a security interest
- That a spouse or co-owner has rights in with the intent to defeat, defraud, or prejudice those rights
- Insured against loss or damage by explosives or fire and the arson causes the requisite damage or loss
Arson in the first degree is also committed when a person knowingly damages or assists, advises, hires, encourages, counsels, or procures another person to commit arson during the commission of another felony.
Does the Dwelling Have to Be a House?
No. It can be any type of the following, regardless of whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant, so long as it is intended to be used as a residence:
- Railroad car
What Is the Punishment for Arson in the First Degree in Georgia?
The criminal punishment for arson in the first degree may be a fine, time in prison, or both. The amount of time in prison that a person may receive for this crime ranges from one to 20 years. A person also faces a fine of up to $50,000.
Do I Need to Hire a Criminal Lawyer for My Arson Case?
Yes. A Georgia criminal lawyer will explain the criminal charge to you and tell you the defense options available. Your criminal lawyer will also fight to get the charge dismissed or lowered to a lesser degree of arson or other lesser crime.