There are several penalties for arson, including time in jail, fines, probation, counseling, mental health treatment, monitoring by an electronic device such as an ankle bracelet, and court fees. If a person is killed because of the arson, the death penalty may be sentenced in some jurisdictions. Each of the penalties will vary depending in what jurisdiction a person is prosecuted and the severity of the arson. The object, vehicle, or building that was set on fire will also be held into account when sentencing is determined. Some regions will even prosecute differently because of the motive behind the burning.
Arson is categorized in several different ways. First degree generally refers to a fire that is started in a church, home, or any type of public building. Second degree involves the burning of a vehicle or a home that is not occupied by any person. Third degree typically refers to fire set to someone’s personal property. This is also sometimes referred to as misdemeanor arson and will often be combined with other charges, such as criminal mischief or destruction of property.
The most severe type is known as aggravated arson. This is when a person is injured or killed as a result of a fire. A person charged with this type of crime will generally be given harsher penalties, which may include longer jail time or possibly even the death penalty. The death penalty typically only is used if one or more deaths resulted from the fire and only in regions where that sentence is legal. Tougher penalties may also be used if a firefighter becomes hurt while trying to extinguish the fire.
A motive, or reason, for starting a fire can weigh heavily on the punishment in some areas. Some jurisdictions will give out worse penalties for this crime because of certain motives. The reasons that people have for committing this crime will vary and may include insurance fraud, revenge, issues with mental health, or simply personal enjoyment.
The charge of arson is not determined by the amount of damage that is done by a fire; instead, a person is charged because of intentionally lighting it. For this reason, a person may receive one of the penalties even if the fire he started was immediately put out and no harm was done to any property. Different terms are used to described any damage that is done to a person’s property, such as charring, sooting, or scorching.