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Las Vegas Arson Defense Attorney

Last Modified: March 27, 2024

Experienced Arson Defense Attorney In Las Vegas

Fire investigators are swift to evaluate the financial situation of a property owner whenever a building incinerates. People have been purposely burning down their properties, in order to acquire insurance money since the inception of insurance policies. Nevertheless, not all fires derive from arson. If you or someone you know has been charged with arson or your insurer is warning that they will file charges against you, it’s essential that you promptly seek advice and representation from an accomplished Las Vegas arson defense lawyer.

If you are facing arson charges in Nevada, look no further than the experienced legal team at Spartacus Criminal Defense Lawyers. Our criminal defense lawyer has extensive experience defending clients against accusations of this nature. We will leverage our resources, knowledge, and expertise to construct a robust defense for your case. Contact our office today for a consultation and to learn more about how we can help you through this difficult time.

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 205.010205.015 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Defenses Of Arson Charges In Nevada?

Three common defenses against Nevada arson charges include:

  1. The incident was an accident – A basic precondition for arson is that the defendant acted willfully and maliciously – a much higher standard than recklessly or negligently. Consequently, genuine accidents resulting in fires are not classified as arson. For instance, forgetting to turn off the stove or fireplace may be an example of this situation.
  2. The fire was a natural disaster – In Nevada and particularly Clark County, the dry heat contributes to numerous wildfires. This occurrence is not anyone’s fault – often arson defense claims Mother Nature as the source of these fires. Forensic experts could potentially provide valid evidence backing up this reasoning. For prosecutors, they must prove guilt with convincing proof; if there isn’t enough information then they should drop charges accordingly.
  3. Someone falsely accused the defendant – From revenge to spite, there are countless motives why people unjustly accuse others of arson.

Can Arson Charges Be Sealed From A Criminal Record?

Arson charges in Nevada are eligible for record sealing immediately upon dismissal. However, if an individual is convicted of arson or a crime of violence against people or property, there is an extended waiting period before the record can be sealed – 5 years for category B and D felonies, and 10 years for violent crimes such as arson. To ensure that you understand all your rights concerning record seals pertaining to arson convictions in Nevada, it’s best to consult with a Las Vegas arson defense lawyer; doing so will help you determine the most suitable time to pursue this legal process.

What Are The Immigration Consequences For Arson Charges?

Arson is considered a serious felony and crime of moral turpitude, which can result in deportation for non-citizens. In light of this, it is strongly recommended that those accused seek the counsel of an experienced Las Vegas arson defense attorney who may be able to reduce or dismiss charges altogether.

What Are Other Common Crimes Charged With Arson?

Nevada routinely accompanies arson charges with insurance fraud, but depending on the case, three other potential offenses may be present. These include:

  • Felony murder (NRS 200.030) – if someone died in the fire
  • Burglary (NRS 205.060) – if the defendant entered a building or vehicle with intent to cause the fire
  • Trespassing (NRS 207.200) – if the defendant entered another person’s property without permission to cause the fire

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Arson?

In Nevada, prosecutors have 4 years from the date of the fire to bring charges for first-degree arson. If they fail to do so, then the statute of limitations expires after 3 years. However, it’s critical to speak with a Las Vegas arson defense attorney as soon as you’ve been charged to begin building the best possible defense in your favor.

Contact Our Las Vegas Arson Defense Attorney Today

At our reputable criminal defense law firm, we are devoted to defending the rights and interests of those facing criminal charges. No matter how serious your arson charge may be, you can rely on us for an aggressive defense strategy. Our experienced Las Vegas arson defense attorney possesses a deep understanding of Nevada’s legal system that allows us to build powerful defenses in order to fight these types of charges head-on. With meticulous preparation and dedication from all parties involved, you can trust us to bring you favorable outcomes. Contact Spartacus Criminal Defense Lawyers today for a consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.

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