In the State of Rhode Island, arson is charged by degree, with first-degree arson being most serious, and seventh-degree arson being the least serious arson offense. Understanding the conduct and the charges that may arise out of such conduct may prevent someone from being charged with a crime. It is also important to understand that an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney can negotiate to get charges reduced to a lower degree of crime.
Arson – Seventh Degree
This charge is for people who start bonfires in the streets, roads, or square, without permission from the local governing body. It carries a $100 fine.
Arson – Sixth Degree
Starting a fire in the woods, for the purpose of destroying the woods, can be criminal. If the fire runs and spreads “at large” the fire starter faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $1000.
Arson – Fifth Degree
Causing a fire which damages or destroys property can result in imprisonment for a minimum of 1 year and up to 20 years, as well as a fine of up to $1000.
Arson – Fourth Degree
When a fire is started purposefully, or an explosion is created intentionally, and this results in the damage or destruction of personal property in excess of $100, a person may face imprisonment for at least 1 year, and up to three years, as well as a fine of up to $1000.
Arson – Third Degree
When someone starts a fire or explosion, damaging or destroying property with the purpose of defrauding an insurer, they may face a minimum of two years and up to twenty years in prison, as well as a fine up to $5000 fine. However, if someone dies as a direct result of the fire, the consequences is imprisonment for not less than 20 years.
Arson – Second Degree
When someone starts a fire or causes an explosion, which results in the damage or destruction of an unoccupied building or structure, they may face imprisonment for at least two years and up to twenty years, as well as a fine of $2500. If someone dies as a direct result of the fire or explosion, including a person fighting the fire, the consequences are a minimum of 20 years.
Arson – First Degree
Causing a fire or explosion where there is a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person, or damage to an occupied building, or a building occupied during the prior six months, or to a residential structure regardless of whether or not it is occupied results in a minimum five year prison sentence, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. The fine is a minimum of $3000 and may be as much as $25,000. If someone dies as a result, including a firefighter, the consequences are a minimum of 20 years in prison.
If You are Charged with Arson
If you are charged with arson, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. There are provisions in the statute which allow for lesser sentences under some circumstances. AT the Law Offices of Kensley R. Barrett, Esq., we understand how to approach arson cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.