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Attorney Katherine A. Gonos
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Navigating the complexities of arson charges in Georgia

On Behalf of | May 29, 2023 | Theft & Property Crimes |

Arson, the act of intentionally setting fire to property, is a serious crime in the state of Georgia. The state treats these cases with severity due to the potential harm to lives, property and community safety.

To grasp the implications of arson charges, it is necessary to understand the state’s approach toward the different degrees of this offense and the type of property involved.

Understanding the degrees of arson

Georgia law identifies three degrees of arson. First-degree arson involves intentionally damaging a dwelling, whether occupied or not, by fire or explosives without the owner’s consent. This also applies to any structure, vehicle or watercraft occupied or designed for occupancy.

Second-degree arson involves acts of intentionally setting fire or causing an explosion to a structure other than a dwelling, without the owner’s consent. It also extends to any property insured against fire damage with the intention of defrauding the insurer.

Third-degree arson focuses on property damage valued at $25 or more or any property with the intent to defraud regardless of the value. The law also stipulates that setting a fire on another’s land without their consent constitutes third-degree arson.

Penalties for arson in Georgia

The penalties for arson in Georgia depend on the degree of the crime. For first-degree arson, one could face imprisonment ranging from one to twenty years. Second-degree arson holds penalties of one to ten years imprisonment. For third-degree arson, the imprisonment term ranges from one to five years.

Defenses against arson charges

It is critical to note that charges do not equate to guilt. Various defenses may be available depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge. These defenses may include lack of intent to set the fire, consent of the property owner or evidence suggesting that the fire resulted from an accident or negligence rather than a criminal act.

Understanding the complexities of arson charges in Georgia is essential for individuals facing these charges.