People generally commit the crime of arson if they knowingly set something on fire or cause an explosion. The offense is a serious felony under Washington law. If you or a family member is facing an arson charge, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.
What is the Crime of Arson?
There are two different degrees of arson under Washington law. These are:
- Arson in the first degree, per RCW 9A.48.020, and
- Arson in the second degree, per RCW 9A.48.030.
People commit arson in the first degree if they “knowingly and maliciously” cause a fire or explosion and either:
- It is manifestly dangerous to any human life, including firefighters,
- It damages a dwelling,
- It is in a building with a human being inside who is not a participant of the crime, or
- It is on property valued at $10,000 or more and the offender acts with the intent to collect insurance proceeds.
People commit arson in the second degree if they “knowingly and maliciously” cause a fire or explosion and it damages any:
- Building or any structure adjoining the building,
- Wharf or dock,
- Machine or engine,
- Car, truck, or other motor vehicle,
- Watercraft or aircraft,
- Bridge, or
- Crop or timber
What are the penalties?
Arson in the first degree is a Class A felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor offense). It is punishable by:
- up to life in prison, and/or
- a maximum $50,000 fine.
Arson in the second degree is a Class B felony. A conviction is punishable by:
- custody in prison for up to 10 years, and/or
- a maximum $20,000 fine.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Fortunately, people facing an arson charge can contest it with a legal defense. Recall that both degrees of arson say that a person is only guilty of an offense if he/she acted maliciously and knowingly. A defense, then, if for an accused to show that he/she did not act with malice or knowledge. For example, defendants can challenge a charge by showing that they accidentally caused a fire or did so without knowledge of one. Defendants can also defend against a charge by showing that the police violated one of their constitutional rights.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge arson charges, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on arson charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!