Arson Defense Attorneys

Arson charge in Minnesota involves the destruction or damaging of a building or personal property by means of fire or explosives. The severity level of the offense depends upon the type of building burned, whether it was occupied, whether an accelerant was used, and the amount of damage caused.

The best evidence may come from what you say. If you find yourself the subject of an arson investigation, immediately contact North Star Criminal Defense and do not make any statements until you consult with us. The most serious offense level carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $35,000 fine. It is critical that you retain a Minnesota arson defense attorney that has the experience and ability to work the case up and fight for you.

Before diving into the levels of offense, it is necessary to highlight that the definition of “building” for purposes of the arson crime includes the standard meaning given to it, as well as any “tent, watercraft, structure or vehicle that is customarily used for overnight lodging.” Much broader than what you would anticipate, right?

Arson in the First Degree

Arson in the first degree consists of three separate acts:

  1. The intentional destruction or damage of a dwelling by fire or explosive. It is irrelevant if a person was or was not inside the dwelling at the time of the act. The maximum sentence is 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $20,000.
  2. The intentional destruction or damage of a non-dwelling building by fire or explosive when another person is present in the building at the time and the defendant knew that, or there was a reasonable possibility that a person could have been present. The maximum sentence if 20 years and/or a fine of $35,000.
  3. The intentional destruction or damage of a non-dwelling building by fire or explosive when a flammable materials are used to accelerate the fire. There are multiple definitions of what is included as “flammable materials.” The maximum sentence is 20 years and/or a fine of $20,000.

Arson in the Second Degree

Second degree arson is the intentional destruction or damage by fire or explosives of an unoccupied non-dwelling building or other property that is valued more than $1,000. The maximum sentence is 10 years and/or a fine of $20,000.

Arson in the Third Degree

Third degree arson is the intentional destruction or damage by fire or explosives of property valued between $300 and $999. The maximum sentence is five years and/or a fine of $10,000.

Arson in the Fourth Degree

Fourth degree arson is the intentional burning of any personal property in a multiple unit residential building or public building. It is a gross misdemeanor crime, making the maximum sentence one-year and/or a fine of $3,000. Fourth degree arson is only available when 1st-3rd degree arson was not committed. A “public building” is defined by statute to include a hotel, hospital, motel, dorm, nursing home, theater, stadium, gym, school, museums, bars, churches, etc.

Arson in the Fifth Degree

Fifth degree arson is the intentional burning of any property, regardless of the property’s value. This is the catch-all crime for any arson-type crime that doesn’t neatly fit into one of the above scenarios. It is a misdemeanor crime, making the maximum sentence 90 days and/or a fine of $1,000.

Wildfire Arson

Wildfire arson is the intentional burning of timber, underbrush, grass, or other vegetative combustible material on another person’s property. This is a felony offense with the maximum sentence dependent upon the scope of the fire. It is a gross misdemeanor to possess a flammable, explosive, or incendiary device with the intent to commit wildfire arson.

Negligent Fires

Negligent fires is the crime for when a person grossly negligently causes a fire to burn or get out of control, thereby causing damage or injury to another. If there is an injury to person, the crime is either a felony or gross misdemeanor depending on the severity of the injury. If the injury is only to property, the crime ranges from a felony to a misdemeanor depending on the amount of property damage.

Case Results

To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results:

State v. M.G.

Charges: 1st and 3rd Degree Arson, and Negligent Fires. All felonies.

Resolution: Client pled guilty to negligent fires as a gross misdemeanor. It was of utmost importance to keep a felony off of his record. The facts pointed to his actions causing the fire. Still, through diligent and strategic negotiations, the client is only convicted of a gross misdemeanor offense. The State didn't even agree to this plea deal, but remained silent, meaning the Court had to be convinced this was the right and just result - which was no easy feet considering the victim gave a powerful victim impact statement at sentencing. The client is thrilled with the outcome.

State v. T.L.

Charges: 1st Degree Arson - Felony, Mandatory Prison Commitment

Resolution: Stay of Imposition to an amended count of 3rd Degree Arson. In addition to getting a stay of imposition in which the client's criminal record will be a misdemeanor after successful completion of probation, the State also agreed not to charge an additional felony count. The client has half the time in jail the State was requesting and minimal conditions for her to follow in order to earn that misdemeanor record. For a single mother with a bright future, the client was thrilled to avoid prison and a felony record.

North Star Criminal Defense - Proven Success in Fighting Arson Charges

If you are facing arson or negligent fire charges, it is imperative that you hire a Minnesota arson attorney that knows how to build up your defense on your behalf. North Star Criminal Defense has experience in getting favorable results for clients facing these charges throughout Minnesota. We have a team of investigators that are available and can discover key evidence to build a successful defense. We are Not Always Minnesota Nice to your benefit. Contact us now.