Traditionally, arson is the criminal act of burning or charring of a structure. The structure in question can vary from a home or an office building to a houseboat or a car. However, Georgia also includes personal property worth over $25, such as a laptop or a rare book, in its types of properties that can be damaged by arson. The state has three separate degrees of arson based on the type of property that is damaged by the criminal act.
What Is Arson in the First Degree in Georgia?
Arson in the first degree focuses on a person knowingly damaging or helping to damage another person’s property that is intended to be a dwelling or reasonably believed to be occupied at the time of the arson by using fire or an explosive. The penalty for first degree arson is one to 20 year in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
What Is Arson in the Second Degree in Georgia?
Arson in the second degree focuses on committing arson to a nonresidential structure that belongs to another person or that another person has a security interest in. A person can also be guilty of second degree arson if they act as an accomplice to the person who actually commits the crime. The penalty for arson in the second degree is one to 10 years in prison and/or $25,000 fine.
What Is Arson in the Third Degree in Georgia?
Arson in the third degree is the crime of using explosives or fire to knowingly damage or destroy personal property without the owner’s consent. The property must be valued at $25 or more and must:
- Belong to another person,
- Be an item in which another has a security interest,
- Be insured against damage or loss by fire or explosives, or
- Be damaged with the intent to prejudice, defraud, or defeat rights of a spouse or a co-owner.
Can a Person Be Guilty of Third Degree Arson If They Are Only an Accomplice?
Yes. Anyone who knowingly aids, procures, causes, hires, abets, counsels, or encourages another person to commit arson in the third degree is also guilty of this crime under Georgia law.
What Is the Punishment for Third Degree Arson in Georgia?
The punishment that a person convicted of arson in the third degree will face may consist of one to five years in prison. A person may also be required to pay a fine of $10,000 instead of or in addition to a period of imprisonment.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Legal representation is a necessity whenever you are facing an arson charge, regardless of the degree of arson with which you are being charged. Contact a Georgia lawyer as soon as possible to learn how to fight your criminal charge.