Laws, Penalties, and Defenses
Anyone accused of setting fire to a building or car or causing serious risk of physical harm to another by setting a fire faces severe criminal penalties. Ohio arson laws call for significant prison time, especially for aggravated arson.
Therefore you need to know what punishments you may be facing if police charged you with arson or opened an arson investigation naming you as a suspect.
You need a strong, decisive, and accomplished Ohio arson defense lawyer to help you fight these charges. Remember, you remain innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, you must act quickly and seek the advice of a top-rated Ohio arson defense attorney before it is too late.
Ohio Arson Laws
In Ohio, arson means knowingly starting a fire or creating an explosion that:
- Creates a substantial risk of harm to another’s personal or real property without their consent;
- Causes or threatens to cause serious harm to property with the intent to defraud;
- Constitutes a danger of physical harm to a governmental building used for public purposes;
- Creates a substantial risk of harm by hiring someone to set fire with the intent to defraud; or
- Causes a substantial risk of setting a brush or wildfire.
The state prosecutor must prove you started the fire knowingly or to perpetrate a fraud. Proving that your actions caused or contributed to creating a fire is not enough to convict you if the prosecutor can’t prove intent.
Aggravated Arson Ohio
The law defines aggravated arson in Ohio as creating or causing a substantial risk of physical harm to another person by starting a fire. The police could also charge you with aggravated arson for damaging an occupied structure by starting a fire or sparking an explosion.
Similarly, paying someone to start a fire with the intent to harm a building is also aggravated arson. Prosecutors bringing charges of aggravated arson in Ohio must prove that you started a fire or sparked an explosion knowingly.
Ohio Arson Penalties
The potential penalties you face for arson in Ohio depend on the severity of the damage or the reasons for the fire. Arson with property damage of less than $500 is a first-degree misdemeanor.
This offense carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and 180 days in jail. Alternatively, arson with property damage exceeding $500 is a fourth-degree felony. The prison sentence ranges from six months to 18 months and a fine of no more than $5,000. Arson with the intent to defraud is also punishable as a fourth-degree felony.
Arson with an agreement for hire is a third-degree felony. The maximum penalty for a third-degree felony is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Burning an occupied building is a second-degree felony in Ohio. A person convicted of aggravated arson as a second-degree felony faces between two and eight years in prison. Additionally, the court may impose a $15,000 fine.
Aggravated arson for hire and aggravated arson in which someone suffered a substantial risk of physical harm are first-degree felonies. The minimum penalty for a first-degree felony in Ohio is three to 11 years in prison.
Ohio Arson Defenses
Your Ohio arson defense attorney will develop a case strategy with your best interests in mind. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to argue:
- Mistaken identity,
- Consent, or
- Rights violations.
The best defense for you depends on many things. You can rely on an experienced Ohio arson defense lawyer to make the best case for you.
Rely on Experience When It Matters Most
Arson prosecutions are highly complex cases. You need an attorney with significant experience fighting for justice who also has the resources to assert a strong and convincing case for you.