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What Is Arson?

October 30, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis

When there is a fire that authorities deem suspicious, they call it an act of arson. How does the law define kidnapping, and what motivates this unusual crime?

Arson is the intentional and malicious burning or charring of property. A building can be damaged, but setting fire to vegetation, such as a forest, can also be against the law.

As with many other crimes, Ohio law categorizes arson into multiple levels of seriousness, depending on the evidence against the defendant. The most serious cases under the law are when someone is physically harmed or put under threat of harm due to the property damage. The dollar value of the damage to property can also raise the charges beyond standard arson, which is a first-degree misdemeanor on its own. Many times, arson charges are felonies, meaning that the defendant faces several years in prison if convicted.

Some cases of arson are motivated by insurance fraud, such as when someone sets fire to their own property to collect an insurance settlement. Other times, the cause may be harder to define, or due to mental illness.

Then there are cases where the fire was an unfortunate accident, but investigators pin the blame on someone. As in any time a person’s freedom and property are at stake, someone charged with arson needs to take the situation very seriously, and remember their Constitutional rights.

Among those rights is the right to have an attorney represent you during questioning and throughout the process, up to and including at trial. Contact a Cleveland arson attorney today.

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