Arson is a serious crime in Maryland. It occurs when a structure is intentionally set on fire. Whether the structure is inhabited or not and how much damage was done as a result of the fire plays a role in how severe the charge and the resulting penalties are. Here’s what you need to know about Maryland Arson Laws.
Arson is typically charged when a person intentionally sets fire to a structure.
Second Degree Arson
Second degree arson is a felony and is charged when the structure burned is uninhabited. The penalties for committing second degree arson include up to $30,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
First Degree Arson
While also a felony, first degree arson is charged when the structure that is burned is inhabited or where someone is present. This crime is taken very seriously in Maryland, and if an individual is convicted, he or she could face up to a $50,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.
The state of Maryland also has a crime known as malicious burning. This is, for example, when a person sets fire to another person’s property in an effort to exact revenge.
Second Degree Malicious Burning
This is generally charged as a misdemeanor when the damage of the property burned is valued at less than $1,000. Punishments include up to a $500 fine and up to 18 months in jail.
First Degree Malicious Burning
If the damage of the property that was maliciously burned is valued at over $1,000, the individual charged could face up to a $5,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
When to Contact an Arson Attorney
If you are a suspect in an arson case, it is critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible, even if you haven’t been officially charged or arrested. Prosecutors are already gathering evidence against you, and without adequate legal representation, you may not be able to defend yourself. An attorney will go over the facts of your case and will complete an investigation alongside law enforcement, ensuring that no illegal searches are done and the prosecutor has little or no evidence that can be admitted into court.
Contact J. Christopher Llinas today for a one-on-one consultation to learn more about how you can best defend yourself as an arson suspect, or if you’ve already been arrested and charged with arson. Call now at (443) 235-5793.