Arson is a crime that can be motivated by a number of things. We are all familiar with the stereotypical story of someone burning down a building to collect the insurance money. Arson can involve monetary gain as a motive. But there are other possible motives as well, such as compulsion, revenge, anger, or the covering up of another crime such as murder. Whatever the motive, property is always damaged or destroyed. In addition, because fire is so volatile and dangerous, people and animals can be injured or killed. As a result, arson in Muskogee, Oklahoma is always a felony. Thus, you should consult with a qualified Muskogee attorney right away.
Arson In Muskogee Defined
In Oklahoma, arson in general is defined as the willful and malicious attempted or actual setting of fire to or the burning and destroying in whole or in part, any real or personal property. It can occur to a building, vehicle, boat, or simply out in the open countryside. It is an intentional crime of stealth and destruction and is illegal in all 50 states.
Oklahoma classifies arson by degree, with arson in the arson degree being the most serious category. The classifications for the crime run from arson in the first degree to arson in the fourth degree. Each type is a felony in Muskogee.
Arson can involve the use of an explosive device, accelerant, ignition device, heat-producing device or substance, or matches. The offense can also involve aiding or abetting someone else in the setting of a fire.
First-Degree Arson In Muskogee
This is the most serious crime in this group. It is arson as described above at a time when the structure is inhabited by another person. The potential loss of life is high in arson in the first degree.
A structure is considered to be occupied if it actually contains one or more persons at the time of the commission of the alleged crime or if any part of it is normally used by any person for lodging. OUJI-CR 5-3
That means that even if no one is actually in the building at the time of the crime, if any part of that building is normally used as a living space, it will be deemed to have been occupied and the defendant will be charged in the first degree.
It includes accidental fires that ignite or explode while manufacturing drugs. It is punishable by up to 35 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,0000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1401
Second-degree arson is much like first-degree arson, but it involves a fire in an uninhabited building. A structure is deemed to be unoccupied if it contains no people at the time the fire is set. A building or structure is deemed to be uninhabited if no part of the building or structure is normally used by any person for lodging. OUJI-CR 5-5
However, if the property is usually used to lodge people or if a person lives in the building, the crime is chargeable in the first degree even if the building was unoccupied at the time the fire is set. It is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1402
Arson in the third degree involves the willful and malicious burning of property valued at $50 or more by use of an explosive device or substance which destroys that property in whole or in part. This could involve crops, pastures, cars, trucks, bikes, and the like. It encompasses all types of personal property whether that property belongs to the defendant or to another person. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1403
Fourth-Degree: The Attempt
The attempt to burn property is also considered to be arson. The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1404
Placing or distributing of any accelerant, explosive, combustible material, or device in any building or property, with the intent to later willfully and maliciously set fire to it or have someone else set fire to it, is deemed an attempted arson in the fourth degree.
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