Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

The Law Behind 1st Degree Arson in Georgia After Woman Accused of Burning Down Her Home for Insurance Money

Posted by Richard Lawson | Aug 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

Rebecca Abernathy was arrested this past week on charges of arson and insurance fraud in Habersham County. She allegedly set her house on fire so that she could receive insurance money last January. According to reports, Abernathy set fire to her home in Demorest on January 21st and later filed a claim through State Farm to gain $240,000.

As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will focus today's post on the criminal offense of first degree arson in Georgia.

1st Degree Arson in Georgia

Georgia Law breaks arson down into three separate degrees:

All degrees of arson are classified as felonies in the state of Georgia, however, each degree has different elements and as a result, different penalties.

The Georgia Code defines arson in the first degree as:

A person will be guilty of arson in the first degree when, by means of fire or explosion, 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 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;
  • 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, if such structure is designed for use as a dwelling, whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant;
  • Any dwelling house, building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other structure 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;
  • Any dwelling house, building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other structure whether it is occupied, unoccupied, or vacant with the intent to defeat, prejudice, or defraud the rights of a spouse or co-owner; or
  • Any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or other structure under such circumstances that is reasonably foreseeable that human life might be endangered. O.C.G.A. §16-7-60.

There are two main elements to a first degree arson charge. First, the damage must be knowingly done. And second, the damage must be done by fire or explosive. So in order for the prosecution to convict Abernathy, they will have to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt which includes demonstrating that she knowingly caused the damage to her home by fire or explosive. 

If convicted of first degree arson in Georgia, the penalty can include up to $50,000 in fines, up to 20 years in prison, or both. 

Practice Note

Felonies have serious consequences that affect every area of life. This is why it is so important to discuss your case with a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney if you or a loved one have been arrested.

There are Georgia Criminal Defenses that can apply to your case, so 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.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today for Immediate Help

The time is now to start preparing your defense! Many times people lose the opportunity to put on their best defense because they wait. The importance of hiring a lawyer from the very beginning cannot be overstated! Waiting allows for witnesses to leave the area, evidence to be lost, and memories to fade. All of these have a direct effect on the successful on your case. The time to begin your case and start prepping your defense is now! Contact us today to put on your best Georgia criminal defense!

Menu