The criminal lawyers at Brandt Criminal Defense know arson cases and know exactly how to help. With over 30 years of experience handling arson cases, we know what to do. Arson cases usually involve some sort of “expert” from the state such as a Fire Marshall or other so-called arson expert. These “experts” are not infallible and it’s vital to your case to get the assistance of experts to rebut the conclusions or claims by the state’s experts. If you’re facing arson charges, you should get an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible to protect your rights before key evidence is destroyed or no longer available.
What is Arson?
Arson is when a person intentionally sets fire to or uses explosives to damage property. This can include a person’s own property. In some cases arson includes not only intentional acts, but also cases where a person causes a fire through gross negligence.
These are the different arson charges a person can face:
- 1st degree – Up to 20 years in prison and / or a $35,000 fine
- 2nd degree – Up to 10 years in prison and / or a $20,000 fine
- 3rd degree – Up to 5 years in prison and / or a $10,000 fine
- 4th degree – Up to 1 year in jail and / or a $3,000 fine
- 5th degree – Up to 90 days in jail and / or a $1,000 fine
The team at Brandt Criminal Defense knows arson cases and has been honored with the title of “Super Lawyer” or “Rising Star” for the past 12 years. If you are being investigated for arson or have been charged with any level of arson, we are ready to sit down with you and come up with a plan to defend you.
Call 763-421-6366 for a free consultation today.
Arson Information & Guides
All penalties listed below are the maximum penalty that can be imposed under Minnesota Law.
- 1st Degree Arson: Felony
Dwelling (Subdivision 1): 20 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
Other Buildings (Subdivision 2): 20 years in prison and/or a $35,000 fine.
Flammable Material (Subdivision 3): 20 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
- 2nd Degree Arson: Felony
10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
- 3rd Degree Arson: Felony
5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
- 4th Degree Arson: Gross Misdemeanor
1 year in prison and/or a $3,000 fine.
- 5th Degree Arson: Misdemeanor
90 year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
- Use of ignition devices: Petty Misdemeanor
1st Degree Arson (Minn. Stat. § 609.561)
Dwelling (Subdivision 1)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally destroys or damages any building that is used as a dwelling at the time of the act, or a building connected to a dwelling is guilty of first degree arson.
Other Buildings (Subdivision 2)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally destroys or damages any building that is not included in subdivision 1 when another person not included in the crime is present in the building and the defendant knows the person is present or if the circumstances render the presence of such a person a reasonable possibility is guilty of first degree arson.
Flammable Material (Subdivision 3)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally destroys or damages any building that is not included in subdivision 1 by using a flammable material to start or accelerate the fire is guilty of first degree arson.
2nd Degree Arson (Minn. Stat. § 609.562)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally destroys or damages any building not covered in 1st degree (Minn. Stat. 609.561) regardless of its value, or any other real or personal property valued at more than $1,000 is guilty of second degree arson.
3rd Degree Arson (Minn. Stat. § 609.563)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally destroys or damages any real or personal property if the defendant intended to damage property valued more than $300 but less than $1000, or the value of the property damaged was more than $300 was unintentionally damaged but such damage could reasonably have been foreseen, or the combination of the previous two clauses is valued at $300 or more, is guilty of third degree arson.
4th Degree Arson (Minn. Stat. § 609.5631)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally sets fire to, burns, or causes to burn, any personal property in a multiple unit residential building or public building (and arson in the first, second or third degree was not committed) is guilty of fourth degree arson.
5th Degree Arson (Minn. Stat. § 609.5632)
Whoever by means of fire or explosives intentionally sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned any real or personal property of value is guilty of fifth degree arson.
Use of ignition devices (Minn. Stat. § 609.5633)
A student who uses an ignition device, including a butane or disposable lighter or matches, inside an educational building under circumstances where there is an obvious risk of fire, (and arson in the first, second, third, or fourth degree was not committed) is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Combustible liquid: a liquid having a flash point at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flammable Gas: any material which is a gas at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or less and 14.7 psi of pressure which is either: ignitable when in a mixture of 13 percent or less by volume with air atmosphere, or has a flammable range with air at atmospheric pressure of at least 12 percent, regardless of the lower flammable limit.
Flammable Material: a flammable or combustible liquid, a flammable gas, or a flammable solid.
Flammable Solid: any of the following: wetted explosives, self-reactive materials that are liable to undergo heat-producing decomposition, or readily combustible solids that may cause a fire through friction or that have a rapid burning rate as determined by specific flammability tests.
Multiple Unit Residential Building: a building containing two or more apartments
Public Building: a building such a hotel, hospital, motel, dormitory, sanitarium, nursing home, theater, stadium, gymnasium, amusement park building, school or other building used for educational purposes, museum, restaurant, bar, correctional institution, place of worship, or other building of public assembly.
What if I am charged with arson for burning my own house or property?
Burning one’s own home or property is not a defense to arson and in most cases a person is still criminally liable for burning his or her own home or property
Anytime you are charged with arson, you should do two things:
1. Contact a criminal defense attorney; and,
2. Do NOT talk to the cops.
Only in extremely rare circumstances do we recommend communicating with the cops and any decision to do so should be made with the advice of counsel and with an attorney present that has experience in handling charges of arson in Minnesota.