What is Arson in the State of Washington? (Including Reckless Burning)
Arson Laws in Washington State
Facing an Arson charge can be incredibly strenuous as the penalties for Arson in the First Degree or in the Second Degree can be incredibly steep under Arson Laws in Washington. Arson, as defined by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), is when one “knowingly and maliciously” causes fire or an explosion inflicting damage.
What are the potential penalties for Arson?
In the State of Washington, the potential convictions for Arson can be either a Class A or Class B Felony conviction. These convictions carry maximum penalties that range from 10 years to life in prison. The severity depends on a number of factors including how much damage was inflicted as well taking into account whether or not you endangered lives in the act.
Arson 2nd Degree: Arson in the Second Degree is when one “knowingly or maliciously” causes damage to a building, structure or property by way of fire or an explosion. It is considered a Class B Felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000.00 fine.
Arson 1st Degree: Arson in the first degree is not only “knowingly or maliciously” causing a fire or explosion to damage a building, but also endangering human lives. This can be firefighters, people who live in the burning structure/building, or anyone who is present that is not participating in the crime. Insurance fraud also falls under this statute, as causing a fire or explosion on a property that is worth $10,000.00 or more with the intent to collect insurance money is also considered Arson in the First Degree. This charge is a Class A Felony carrying penalties ranging up to life in prison and up to $50,000.00 in fines.
What if I caused an accidental fire or explosion?
The most important piece that the prosecutor must prove in any case of arson is your intention. Causing a fire by leaving a campfire unattended, incorrect equipment use, or negligently discarded cigarettes do not count as arson.
Reckless Burning 2nd Degree: Reckless Burning in the Second Degree is committed when one endangers a building, or other property with fire. Reckless Burning in the Second Degree is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in prison, and $5,000 in fines.
Reckless Burning 1st Degree: Reckless Burning in the First Degree is charged when a person recklessly starts a fire that damages a building or other property. The key difference between Reckless Burning and Arson is the intention behind it, as Reckless Burning assumes there was no malicious intent. Reckless Burning in the First Degree is a Class C Felony carrying up to 5 years in prison and $10,000.00 in fines.
Understanding the seriousness of Arson Laws in Washington State
Arson is a serious crime in Washington and is taken very seriously by the legal system. If you are convicted of arson, you could face significant penalties, including fines, jail time, and even life in prison in some cases. It’s important to note that arson charges can be complex and require a thorough investigation by law enforcement. In some cases, the evidence against a defendant may not be clear, and there may be potential defenses or mitigating circumstances that can be raised in court.
Committed to helping you
If you are facing arson charges, it’s important to work with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and build a strong defense on your behalf. Your attorney can review the evidence against you, investigate the circumstances and situation of the alleged crime, and work to build a defense strategy that is tailored to your specific case.
In addition to facing criminal charges, arson defendants may also face civil lawsuits for damages caused by the fire. If you are facing both criminal and civil charges, it’s important to work with an attorney who has experience handling both types of cases. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer will work to investigate, defend, and build a strong case to provide you with the best outcome possible.
Set up a free confidential consultation with the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today and discuss your options and case with one of our highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys.