Maryland Arson Lawyers
Douse Arson And Malicious Burning Charges With A Great Criminal Defense Team
Arson is a serious felony in Maryland and can result in a lengthy prison sentence if you are connected. Therefore, the early involvement of an attorney is essential to protect your future.
Bring your legal defense back from the ashes when it comes to arson and other burning charges with JC Law. We help keep arson charges from landing you and your family in court – or in jail with five-digit fines.
What Is “Arson” In Maryland?
Maryland law classifies arson as the malicious or intentional setting on fire of any place or structure.
The “place or structure” could be anywhere in Maryland: a vacant lot, strip of woods, office building, school, stadium, or residence.
Some examples of possible arson include:
- A would-be burglar trying to smoke out an apartment building;
- A group of college students discharging fireworks in a dry, empty lot as a prank that then sets the grass on fire; or
- A shed burning down under mysterious circumstances.
Arson crimes in Maryland are classified under two different degrees.
- First-degree arson refers to lighting an occupied place or structure on fire.
- Second-degree arson refers to setting an unoccupied place or structure on fire.
How Is Arson Different From “Malicious Burning” Charges?
A charge of arson requires a building or plot of property to be burned. On the other hand, a “malicious burning” charge is when someone is accused of burning private or personal property.
Possible situations that may generate malicious burning charges include:
- A delinquent setting fire to a farmer’s field of drying hay;
- Setting fire to a car during civil protests; or
- Angrily torching the family boat to avoid an ex-spouse from taking it in a divorce settlement. (We do not recommend this strategy as a way of getting what you want in a divorce.)
Just like arson, malicious burning charges can be one of two degrees.
- First-degree malicious burning is charged when the burned property is worth over $1,000.
- Second-degree malicious burning is charged for property worth less than $1,000.
What Punishments Does Maryland Give For Arson Or Malicious Burning?
Arson charges are always felony-level accusations, while some malicious burning charges can be misdemeanor level. All convictions for fire-related crimes have jail time as a possibility.
- First-degree arson punishments include a felony record, a maximum fine of $50,000 and a maximum jail sentence of 30 years.
- Second-degree arson punishments are still felonies, but max out at $30,000 and 20 years in prison.
- First-degree malicious burning punishments are also considered felonies and can have fines of up to $5,000 and 5 years in prison.
- Second-degree malicious burning punishments are misdemeanors. Their max fine is $500 and they have a maximum jail sentence of 18 months.
Those who burn down their own buildings for the purpose of collecting insurance money are usually charged with second-degree arson, unless someone happens to be inside the structure at the time of it being set on fire.
Convictions of “burning with intent to commit fraud” are misdemeanors with a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
How Can Criminal Defense Lawyers Help With Arson Charges?
The first suspect in many Maryland arson cases is often the property owner. If the property was insured, then the owner can receive a payout – a motive that prosecutors doggedly pursue.
Frequently, home and property owners find themselves trying to rebuild their lives and businesses from the ashes of a fire while simultaneously defending themselves against arson charges.
While that connection between a fire and insurance payout makes a certain level of sense, that association isn’t always true – and criminal defense lawyers experienced in arson cases can demonstrate that bias to a court and jury.
That is, if the defense team even lets the case get as far as formal charges being filed. A great criminal defense lawyer can intervene in investigations on behalf of their clients, especially if an overzealous prosecution begins to infringe on a client’s constitutional rights.
There’s also the matter of intent when it comes to arson and malicious burning cases. The prosecution must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant intended to set fire to the property or building for a “malicious” or illegal purpose.
Many situations can be misconstrued as malicious. Unwise young adults pulling pranks or a small bonfire that got out of control can quickly spiral into a bigger fire that invites needless investigation.
A criminal defense lawyer can help their clients reign in those sorts of quick-spreading charges before they overtake everything else.
The sooner you involve a solid criminal defense lawyer experienced with arson cases, the better chance you have of receiving a good outcome in your case – or even of getting it dismissed entirely.
“From the first phone call, my mind was set at ease and I was confident that my case was in GREAT hands. [My attorney] attacked the task at hand with enthusiasm and the precision needed for the BEST possible outcome.
Find out what it’s like to work with us.