Arson is the knowing and malicious causation of a fire or explosion that is dangerous or damages property. Arson is divided into two degrees, First Degree Arson and Second Degree Arson. Arson requires intent to do something nefarious. The Reckless Burning statutes may apply if the person causing the fire or explosion acted recklessly instead of on purpose.
It is generally irrelevant whose property was damaged or how much damage was caused. State law says that a person is reckless or acts recklessly when he or she knows of and disregards a substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur and this disregard is a gross deviation from conduct that a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.
First Degree Arson
First Degree Arson is a Class A Felony, categorized as a “violent offense.” A person with no previous felony history will still be subject to mandatory minimum of 21-27 months in prison, assuming no other enhancements. Activity included in First Degree Arson are acts that the person knowingly and maliciously:
a) causes a fire or explosion which is manifestly dangerous to any human life, including firefighters; or
b) causes a fire or explosion which damages a dwelling; or
c) causes a fire or explosion in any building in which there shall be at the time a human being who is not a participant in the crime; or
d) causes a fire or explosion on property valued at ten thousand dollars or more with intent to collect insurance proceeds
Second Degree Arson
Like First Degree Arson, Second Degree Arson is classified as a “violent offense.” However, it is a Class B Felony, meaning that if a person was to be convicted, he or she would be looking at a minimum of 3-9 months in jail. Activity included in Second Degree Arson are acts that the person knowingly and maliciously causes a fire or explosion, which damages a building, or any structure or erection appurtenant to or joining any building, or any wharf, dock, machine, engine, automobile or other motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, bridge or trestle, or hay, grain, crop or timber, whether cut or standing or any range land or pasture land, or any fence, or any lumber, shingle or other timber products, or any property.
First Degree Reckless Burning
Reckless Burning in the First Degree is defined as recklessly damaging a building or other structure or any vehicle, railway car, aircraft or watercraft or any hay, grain, crop or timber, whether cut or standing, by knowingly causing a fire or explosion. It is a Class C Felony. There is no mandatory jail time, and a first-time offender would be subject to 0-60 days in jail. The statutory maximum is five years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.
Second Degree Reckless Burning
Reckless Burning in the Second Degree is the reckless burning in the second degree if he or she knowingly causes a fire or explosion, whether on his or her own property or that of another, and thereby recklessly places a building or other structure, or any vehicle, railway car, aircraft or watercraft, or any hay, grain, crop or timber, whether cut or standing, in danger of destruction or damage. Like the felony version, this gross misdemeanor has no mandatory jail time. There is a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and/or a $5000 fine.
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC, aggressively represents clients throughout the Washington I-5 corridor, covering Skagit, Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties. Regular courts of practice include, but are not limited to, Anacortes, Arlington, Bellevue, Bellingham, Blaine, Burlington, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Mountlake Terrance, Redmond, Seattle, Sedro Woolley and Shoreline.