While a fire can start for several reasons, if someone intentionally starts a fire, he or she could end up facing arson charges. Although arson laws vary from state to state, many states, such as Georgia, treat arson as a serious crime.
Georgia addresses arson in three separate statutes: arson in the first degree, second degree, and third degree. As can be expected, first degree arson carries the harshest penalties, while third degree arson has the lightest. It's important to note, however, that arson in any degree will result in at least one year of imprisonment. All three statutes consider it arson if a person, by means of fire or explosives, knowingly damages or encourages another to damage property while committing a felony.
Georgia Arson Laws Overview
Below you will find key provisions of arson laws in Georgia.
Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses Section 16-7-60, et seq.
|Prohibited Behavior and Charges
First degree arson (Section 16-7-60): By means of fire or explosives, knowingly damage or advise/encourage another to damage:
- An occupied or unoccupied dwelling or structure designed for use as a dwelling that either belongs to another or another has a security interest in;
- An occupied or unoccupied dwelling, building, or vehicle when it's insured against loss or damage by fire or explosive;
- An occupied or unoccupied dwelling, building, or vehicle with the intent to defeat, prejudice, or defraud the rights of a co-owner or spouse; or
- Any structure or vehicle when it's reasonably foreseeable that it may endanger human life.
Second degree arson (Section 16-7-61): By means of fire or explosive, knowingly damage or advise/encourage another to damage property that is not mentioned in Section 16-7-60 and belongs to someone else.
Third degree arson (Section 16-7-62): By means of fire or explosive, knowingly damage or advise/encourage another to damage any personal property valued at $25.00 or more if:
- It belongs to another or someone else has a security interest in it;
- It's insured against loss or damage by fire or explosive; or
- It's done with the intent to defeat, prejudice, or defraud the rights of a co-owner or spouse.
First degree arson: prison term of no less than one year and no more than 20 years and/or $50,000.
Second degree arson: prison term of no less than one year and no more than 10 years and/or a fine not exceeding $25,000.
Third degree arson: prison term of no less than one year and no more than 5 years and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Consent is generally a defense to arson; however, it's not a defense when the charges stem from:
- The commission of a felony;
- Foreseeably endangering human life; or
- Intending to defeating or prejudicing the rights of a spouse or co-owner.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Georgia Arson Laws: Related Resources
For more information about laws related to this topic, please click on the links below:
Have Questions About Your Arson Case in Georgia? Contact an Attorney
Arson is a serious crime and in Georgia an arson conviction will land you in prison. For this reason alone, it's important to have a seasoned attorney by your side if your facing arson charges. An attorney can help you evaluate the evidence in your case and negotiate with the prosecution and can also be your strongest advocate at trial. Reach out to a criminal defense attorney in your area today to learn more.