Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Closer Look at the Law Behind Arson in Georgia After Report of Suspicious House Fire

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jun 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

A fire burned down a house in Paulding County last Friday, and authorities are deeming that the fire stemmed out of “suspicious activity.”

The Georgia Arson Control has disbursed notifications of a $10,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of whoever might be responsible.

In today's post, I will focus on the criminal offense of arson in the state of Georgia. Georgia recognizes three different degrees of arson, and I've outlined them below.

First Degree Arson in Georgia

Georgia Law defines first degree arson in Georgia as:

A person will be guilty of arson in the first degree when by means of fire or explosive, whether or not in the commission of a felony, he or she knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to damage any dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, or other structure of another…

  • Without his or her consent or in which another has a security interest, including but not limited to a mortgage, a lien, or a conveyance to secure debt, without the consent of both, whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant;
  • Without his or her consent or in which another has a security interest, including but not limited to a mortgage, a lien, or a conveyance to secure debt, without the consent of both, if such structure is designed for use as a dwelling, whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant;
  • Whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant and when such is insured against loss or damage by fire or explosive and such loss or damage is accomplished without the consent of both the insurer and the insured;
  • Whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant with the intent to defeat, prejudice, or defraud the rights of a spouse or co-owner; or
  • Under such circumstances that is reasonably foreseeable that human life might be endangered. O.C.G.A. §16-7-60.

If convicted of first-degree arson, the penalty can include a prison sentence of one to twenty years, a fine up to $50,000, or both.

Second Degree Arson in Georgia

Georgia Law defines second degree arson in Georgia as:

A person will be guilty of arson in the second degree when by means of fire or explosive, whether or not in the commission of a felony, he or she knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to damage…

  • any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other structure of another without his or her consent or in which another has a security interest, including but not limited to a mortgage, lien, or a conveyance to secure debt, without the consent of both. O.C.G.A. §16-7-61.

If  convicted of second-degree arson in Georgia, the penalty can include a prison sentence of one to ten years, a fine up to $25,000, or both. 

Third Degree Arson in Georgia

Georgia Law defines third degree arson in Georgia as:

A person will be guilty of arson in the third degree when by means of fire or explosive, whether or not in the commission of a felony, he or she knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to damage any personal property:

  • Of another without his or her counsel or in which another has a security interest, including but not limited to a lien, without the consent of both and the value of the property is $25.00 or more;
  • When such is insured against loss or damage by fire or explosive and the loss or damage is accomplished without the consent of both the insurer and insured and the value of the property is $25.00 or more; or
  • With the intent to defeat, prejudice, or defraud the rights of a spouse or co-owner and the value of the property is $25.00 or more. O.C.G.A. §16-7-62.

If convicted of third-degree arson in Georgia, the penalty can include a prison sentence of one to five years, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

Practice Note

All three degrees of arson are considered felonies in the state of Georgia. This is all the more reason to reach out to a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, if you or a loved one has been charged with arson in Georgia. 

The differences in degrees mean that different Georgia Criminal Defenses will apply. Our attorneys have over fifty years of combined experience and are well-equipped to determine your best course of action. Contact us today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense. He exclusively handles DUI Cases. As a former DUI Prosecutor he knows both sides of your case. Put his experience to work for you. You only have 30 days to protect your right to drive. Call now for immediate attention. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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