Legal Definition Of Arson In Nevada
According to the Nevada Revised Statutes, arson is specifically defined as purposefully igniting a building, structure, or any personal property so that it becomes scorched, charred, or burned. NRS 205.005 confirms this definition of arson.
Understanding The 4 Degrees of Arson
Depending on the level of arson and its severity, you may face different levels of punishment. There are four degrees that define this crime: First Degree Arson, Second Degree Arson, Third Degree Arson, and Fourth Degree Arson. Be aware though; all these offenses can be put under probation if needed, however, court fines and fees still need to be paid in addition to any charges for policing or fire services used during investigations/prosecutions connected with your offense.
First-Degree Arson (NRS 205.010)
First-degree Arson is maliciously and intentionally setting fire to any housing structure, regardless of whether it’s occupied or not. It also covers burning personal property that is used by multiple individuals at once. Such heinous actions are punished with the utmost severity in order to discourage people from taking part in such activities. Furthermore, planning the burning of a building or property by another person–or assisting someone in such an act–is deemed first-degree arson. Punishment for this offense is extremely severe and may include imprisonment for two to fifteen years plus hefty fines of up to $15,000. It is classified as a category B felony.
Criminal arson in Nevada required the State to prove a specific intent to harm in addition to a volitional act, because arson plainly required the State to prove that defendant willfully and maliciously caused a fire, which meant the State must prove that defendant engaged in volitional conduct coupled with a specific intent to harm; malice equated with an evil intent to cause harm. State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., 462 P.3d 671, 136 Nev. Adv. Rep. 23, 2020 Nev. LEXIS 24 (Nev. 2020).
Second Degree Arson (NRS 205.015)
According to Nevada state law, second-degree arson is the knowing or intentional ignition of an unoccupied structure. It does not matter if the individual responsible for such action owns the property in question either – as evidenced by setting a disused dwelling ablaze. Considered to be a Category B felony crime, those found guilty may face:
- 1 to 10 years in prison, and
- Up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion), and
- Court costs plus the costs of extinguishing the fire and investigating the matter
Third Degree Arson (NRS 205.020)
Committing third-degree arson is an intentional and malicious action that involves setting fire to, helping, or prompting the burning of:
- Any unoccupied personal property of another which is worth more than $25
- Any unoccupied personal property owned by you in which someone else has a legal interest
- Any timber, forest, shrubbery, crops, grass, vegetation, or other flammable material not belonging to you.
Third-degree arson is a Category D Felony, for which punishments range between 1 to 4 years and may include a fine of up to $5,000.
Defendant cannot be convicted of third degree arson unless the evidence were to show that he willfully and maliciously caused “the burning of any timber, forest or other flammable material not his own”; there was insufficient evidence for the jury to have concluded that he caused the fire in question and absolutely no evidence that he acted “willfully and maliciously” in any regard. Batt v. State, 111 Nev. 1127, 901 P.2d 664, 111 Nev. Adv. Rep. 125, 1995 Nev. LEXIS 123 (Nev. 1995).
Fourth Degree Arson (NRS 205.025)
Fourth-degree arson, as defined by Nevada Revised Statutes 205.010, 205.015, and 205.020 (which are the definitions of first, second, and third-degree arson) entails one attempting to deliberately or recklessly set fire to any property specified in those statutes – furthermore you can also be charged if you partake in any preceding action that may lead towards igniting a flame on such properties listed above.
An act of fourth-degree arson is considered a felony and can include placing combustible or explosive materials inside a building in anticipation to ignite it. For this offense, one may face up to 4 years of incarceration accompanied by a maximum fine of $5,000 as decreed by the law.
1. A person who willfully and maliciously attempts to set fire to or attempts to burn or to aid, counsel or procure the burning of any of the buildings or property mentioned in NRS 205.010, 205.015 and 205.020, or who commits any act preliminary thereto or in furtherance thereof, is guilty of arson in the fourth degree which is a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000. 2. In any prosecution under this section the placing or distributing of any inflammable, explosive or combustible material or substance, or any device in any building or property mentioned in NRS 205.010, 205.015 and 205.020, in an arrangement or preparation eventually to set fire to or burn the building or property, or to procure the setting fire to or burning of the building or property, is prima facie evidence of a willful attempt to burn or set on fire the property.
Arson With The Intent To Defraud Insurer
With the goal of defrauding their insurance company, some individuals commit what is commonly known as insurance fraud arson. This involves deliberately burning or attempting to burn a structure and/or personal property that must be insured for fire damage. For this type of crime, perpetrators face a category B felony charge with the sentencing of up to 6 years in prison, along with hefty fines reaching $5,000.
Burning Or Aiding and Abetting Burning of Property With Intent to Defraud Insurer
A person who willfully and with the intent to injure or defraud the insurer sets fire to or burns or attempts to set fire to or burn, or who causes to be burned or who aids, counsels or procures the burning of any building, structure or personal property of whatsoever class or character, whether the property of the person or of another, which is at the time insured by any person, company or corporation against loss or damage by fire, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.
“Willful And Malicious” Explained
To be charged with arson, one must have acted deliberately and maliciously – a mistake or accidental fire does not meet this criterion. In fact, even if you had the intention to set something on fire but didn’t intend for any harm to come from it, you cannot be held guilty of arson.
For example, if a candle is knocked over and inadvertently sets a house ablaze, this is not considered arson because it was not intentional. Similarly, setting fire to your bookcase in order to keep warm when the heat has been lost from the home would be deemed non-malicious since no bad intentions were present, you simply wanted to get warm. As such, it could also not be dubbed as an act of arson. That’s why it’s critical to have a qualified Las Vegas arson defense attorney in your corner to help defend your actions.