Arson

Arson involves the act of maliciously, voluntarily, and willfully setting fire to the property of another, or burning your own property for an improper purpose, such as to make an insurance claim. In Minnesota, arson charges are prosecuted by degree according to the severity of the alleged offense in terms of dollar value or injury or death to the victim of the fire. Minnesota arson statutes contain six types of arson charges:

First Degree Arson

According to Minnesota law, whoever unlawfully, by means of fire or explosives, intentionally destroys or damages any building that is used as a dwelling at the time the act is committed, whether the inhabitant is present therein at the time of the act or not, or any building appurtenant to, or connected with, a dwelling whether the property of the actor or of another, commits arson in the first degree. Moreover, a person is guilty of first-degree arson in Minnesota if they unlawfully, by means of fire or explosives, intentionally destroy or damage any building not referenced above, if (a) another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in the building at the time and the defendant knows that; or (b) the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such a person therein a reasonable possibility. Finally, whoever unlawfully by means of fire or explosives, intentionally destroys or damages any building not referenced above, whether the property of the actor or another, commits arson in the first degree if a flammable material is used to start or accelerate the fire.

Second Degree Arson

A person is guilty of second-degree arson in Minnesota if they unlawfully, by means of fire or explosives, intentionally destroy or damage any building not covered above, no matter what its value, or any other real or personal property valued at more than $1,000, whether the property of the actor or another.

Third Degree Arson

A person is guilty of third-degree arson in Minnesota if they unlawfully, by means of fire or explosives, intentionally destroy or damage any real or personal property with a value of more than $300 but less than $1,000.

Fourth Degree Arson

A person is guilty of fourth-degree arson in Minnesota if they intentionally, by means of fire or explosives, set fire to, or burn, or cause to be burned any personal property in a multiple unit residential building or public building and arson in the first, second, or third degree was not committed.

Fifth Degree Arson

A person is guilty of fifth-degree arson in Minnesota if they intentionally, by means of fire or explosives, set fire to, or burn, or cause to be burned any real or personal property of value.

Wildfire Arson

A person is guilty of wildfire arson in Minnesota if they intentionally set a fire to burn out of control on land of another containing timber, underbrush, grass, or other vegetative combustible material.

Negligent Fires

Whoever is grossly negligent in causing a fire to burn or get out of control thereby causing damage or injury to another, and as a result of this: (1) a human being is injured and great bodily harm is incurred; (2) a human being is injured and bodily harm is incurred; or (3) property of another is injured, thereby, is guilty of the crime of negligent fire.

It is important to act swiftly after you’ve been arrested or charged with arson. The earlier you involve an attorney, the sooner we will be able to gather evidence, interview essential witnesses and address other important elements of your case. Call our law firm now for a free consultation: (218) 736-5456.

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