ARSON CRIMES INFORMATION
Maliciously burning a place, a vehicle or any type of property is illegal in Nevada because it destroys resources and it can even harm people. Legally, this violation is called arson and it has many variations that could mean different charges if you are found guilty of it.
Definition of Arson
According to the Nevada Revised Statutes or NRS, someone had committed arson or had “set fire to” to a building, structure or any property when the parts of the items mentioned are scorched, charred, or burned. Arson is a serious crime in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada and aside from mischievous intent, this offense is often done by perpetrators to secure money from insurance.
There are four degrees of arson in Nevada. The first degree is defined when a person “willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, or who aids, counsels or procures the burning…” You can be charged with a first-degree arson when you have set fire to the following:
- House meant for resident and other similar structures such as a mobile home, whether occupied or vacant
- Personal property which is occupied by one or more persons
Obviously, a second-degree arson constitutes harsher penalties for harsher offenses. Similar to a first-degree arson, anyone is guilty of a second-degree when they burn a property and structure with full intention, specifically abandoned buildings. An example of this second-degree arson is you and your friends discovering a long-neglected strip mall and you deciding to set a part of it on fire. Even though no one occupies it, this property could be very well still owned by a private entity.
You will be charged of third-degree arson in Nevada when you participate in any way in setting fire to:
- Any unoccupied personal property of another which has the value of $25 or more
- Any unoccupied personal property owned by the arsonist in which another person has a legal interest
- Any timber, forest, shrubbery, crops, grass, vegetation or other flammable material not owned by the arsonist
Despite it being the fourth level of the hierarchy of arson, a fourth-degree offense is milder than its predecessors. Basically, this is charged when a person is found guilty of attempted arson of any of the first three degrees.
Penalties of Arson
As arson is a destruction of property and endangerment of people around, it is only natural that they incur hefty punishments to ward off potential offenders. Still, arson is one of the most common crimes in Nevada regardless of the weighty consequences and there is a chance that you will face them if arrested for the crime. A first-degree arson is category B felony and warrants an imprisonment of two to 15 years and fines of $15,000. A second-degree is also a category B felony with lesser penalties of one to 10 years of prison time and fines that does not exceed $10,000. A charge of category D felony awaits someone found guilty of a third and fourth-degree felony. This means one to four years of imprisonment and a fine of $5,000.
Other Crimes Tied to Arson
Usually, an arson is perpetrated by a person because of another agenda such an easy claim to an insurance. When it is proven by the prosecutor that this was your plan, you could also be charged with insurance fraud. Additionally, an arson, especially a second-degree, is comprised of trespassing and even vandalism, so this means trespassing and vandalism charges could also be imposed on you. When someone dies due to the arson, murder charges should follow the defendant.
When arson is done in a federal land, the offense becomes under federal jurisdiction. Nevada is 84.9% in federal-owned territories as it is a dessert with parts used for military and other government-related activities. When you happen to set fire to any structures or land under federal property then expect grave consequences such as up to 25 years in prison.
Defenses Against Arson
Since arson is a crime penalized by intent, you can use the defense of lack of intent as your initial counter-argument. You could say that the burning was not done in malicious intent or was purely accidental. Another defense you can use is no arson ever existed and the property you have allegedly burned is already charred before you even get involved in the case, or have not been burned at all. Wildfire is also another point you could use to refute charges. Since Nevada is a wildfire-prone state due to its arid lands, this could be a possibly powerful defense if presented well.