In Georgia, there are many different property crimes that can lead to far reaching consequences and significant penalties. Arson charges are serious in that it is not only destroying property, but it can also cause major injury and death. It is important to understand the different penalties of arson in its first, second and third degree as well as the potential penalties that can be assessed with a conviction. For this particular discussion, arson and its charges related to property damage will be the focus.
The basic tenets of arson in the first, second and third degree are similar. But first degree charges are the most serious and have the harshest penalties. If a person uses fire or explosives and damages or knowingly leads another to cause damage to a house, a vehicle, a watercraft, a building or other structure belonging to another without the owner’s consent if it is occupied or not and the alleged perpetrator has has a security interest such as a mortgage, lien or something similar, there will be a charge of arson. If the act leads to the possibility of a person’s life being in danger, it will be a first degree crime.
A conviction on first degree arson will result in a fine of up to $50,000 or being imprisoned for at least one year and a maximum of 20 years or both. A conviction for second degree arson will result in a fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment from a minimum of one year and a maximum of ten years or both. Charges for third degree arson are related to the value of the property. If it is worth $25 or more, there can be a third degree arson charge. The penalties for third degree arson include a fine of up to $10,000 or jail for a minimum of one year and up to five years or both.
The connotations of arson are serious because of the amount of damage to property and ancillary reasons why this might have been done. Coercing another to commit the act or doing so to profit in some way will lead to a charge of arson. Those who are confronted with these types of theft & property crimes need to understand the potential problems they will have and formulate a strong defense with help from an experienced legal professional.
Source: lexisnexis.com, “Article 3. Arson and Explosives,” accessed on Nov. 4, 2015