Grady Explains: What is Arson?

A fire that destroyed several businesses in Commerce on Oct. 17 has been declared as arson by authorities. Commerce Fire Chief, Kevin Dean said a report specifying the degree of the fire will be published early next week.

The definition of arson, though, varies. According to the state Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, there are three types of arson.

  1. Arson in the first degree:
    • A person knowingly damages or knowingly causes damage through the use of a fire or explosive.
    • Punishment: Fine of no more than $50,000 and/or 1-20 years in prison.
  2. Arson in the second degree:
    • A person knowingly uses fire or explosive to damage an entity in which the owner has a security interest (such as a mortgage).
    • Punishment: Fine of no more than $25,000 and/ 1-10 years in prison.
  3. Arson in the third degree:
    • A person knowingly uses fire and explosives to damage personal property of another without his or her consent in which the property has a security interest.
    • Any personal property insured against loss or damage by fire or explosive and the loss or damage is accomplished without the consent of both the insurer and insured and the value of the property is $25 or more.
    • Any personal property with the intent to defeat, prejudice,or defraud the rights of a spouse or co-owner and the value of the property is $25 or more.
    • Punishment: Fine of no more than $10,000 and/or 1-5 years in prison.

For more information on arson, click here.


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