Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer
704-714-1450
FREE CONSULTATION 24/7

Arson

Criminal Defense Lawyer for Arson Charges

Arson is a serious crime which is punished at the felony level and for which you can spend years in prison. If you have been charged with arson, an experienced defense attorney can help determine how the law applies to your case and potentially negotiate with a prosecutor for a dismissal or reduced charge. Call Mr. Rosensteel so that he can determine the best course of action for you.
Call Us Today at 704-714-1450
"I called Rosensteel when I got into some serious trouble, I actually have a different lawyer that I use for everything in charlotte, but after hiring Rosensteel I called my lawyer and he told me to stick with Rosensteel, so obviously I did. The charges I was facing, well let's say I wouldn’t be able to write this for a long time, were 3 now down to 1 allowed me to keep my job. they are in a perfect location and really don’t try, they do everything they say they are going to do."

Consult a Charlotte Arson Lawyer

First Degree Arson

Second Degree Arson

Dwelling House

A dwelling house is defined as a house that is inhabited, meaning that someone lives there. Inhabitation can be permanent, temporary or seasonal and does not require actual occupation. However, if the house is under construction and no one has moved in yet, between tenants or abandoned, it is not inhabited and therefore not a dwelling house. Under North Carolina law, a dwelling house includes mobile homes, manufactured-type houses and recreational trailers.

For the purposes of arson, a dwelling house includes outbuildings within the curtilage of the dwelling house. The curtilage is the grounds around the dwelling house which is commonly used with the dwelling house, such as a house’s yard. The curtilage can be enclosed or unenclosed.

Burning

To prove the element of burning, a partial burning or even the slightest charring is sufficient evidence. However, North Carolina courts have held that a “mere discoloration” is not sufficient evidence of a burning. A “burning” of a dwelling house is also distinct from “setting fire to” a dwelling house, and the two terms have different meaning in the context of the crime of arson.

Dwelling House of Another

This element is shown when the dwelling house is inhabited by anyone other than the defendant, even if the dwelling house is also inhabited by the defendant. So if a single unit dwelling house is occupied by the defendant and the defendant’s spouse, children or roommates, the defendant commits arson when he burns that house.

A single-unit dwelling house can be solely owned by the defendant but still be the dwelling house of another. For example, if the defendant is a landlord and rents the house to a tenant, the landlord can commit arson by burning that house. However, if the tenant burns the house, he does not commit arson unless another person lives there in addition to him. In addition, if one spouse exclusively occupies a house and the other spouse burns the house, the spouse that burns the house commits arson even if the title to the house is only in his name. But if the spouse who exclusively occupies the house burns the house, that spouse does not commit arson when he burns the house.

If the dwelling house is a multi-unit dwelling, the defendant can commit arson by burning his own apartment so long as there is at least one other unit in the building that is inhabited by someone else, even if the fire does not spread to any unit other than the defendant’s. If there is no other inhabited unit in the building and the defendant’s unit is inhabited by only himself, however, the defendant does not commit arson when he burns his unit.

Maliciously

The crime of arson requires that a person act maliciously, which means that the defendant either intentionally and without justification or excuse burned the dwelling itself, or that the defendant intentionally and without justification or excuse burned another structure or place that was not the dwelling itself but created an unreasonable danger of fire to the dwelling. North Carolina courts have explained that the malicious element of the crime of arson does not require an “intent or animus” against either the dwelling or the owner of the dwelling.

Fraudulently Setting Fire to a Dwelling House

If a person is found guilty of fraudulently setting fire to a dwelling house, he is guilty of a Class H felony. A person who commits a Class H felony must be sentenced to punishment between four and 25 months, depending on prior convictions. A person with no prior convictions may receive community or intermediate punishment, such as probation. However, any person who commits a Class H may receive active jail time as punishment.

A dwelling house is defined as a house that is inhabited, meaning that someone lives there. Inhabitation can be permanent, temporary or seasonal and does not require actual occupation. However, if the house is under construction and no one has moved in yet, between tenants or abandoned, it is not inhabited and therefore not a dwelling house. Under North Carolina law, a dwelling house includes mobile homes, manufactured-type houses and recreational trailers.

A person does not have to own the house for that house to be his dwelling house. For example, a tenant would commit fraudulently setting fire to a dwelling house, not arson, when he burns a dwelling house of which he is the sole inhabitant.

For the purposes of burning crimes, a dwelling house includes outbuildings within the curtilage of the dwelling house. The curtilage is the grounds around the dwelling house which is commonly used with the dwelling house, such as a house’s yard. The curtilage can be enclosed or unenclosed.

The crime of fraudulently setting fire to a dwelling house includes both the act of burning the dwelling house and the act setting fire to the dwelling house. To prove the element of burning, a partial burning or even the slightest charring is sufficient evidence. However, North Carolina courts have held that a “mere discoloration” is not sufficient evidence of a burning. A “burning” of a dwelling house is distinct from “setting fire to” a dwelling house, and the two terms have different meanings. Setting fire to a dwelling house means causing fire to come into contact with the property, even if the property is not actually burned, and does include circumstances when the property is “merely scorched” or “discolored by heat.”

A person does not have to actually burn or set fire to his dwelling house to violate the fraudulently setting fire to a dwelling house statute. The statute also makes it a crime for a person to “aid, counsel or procure” the burning of his dwelling house.

Other Burnings

North Carolina statute also creates distinct crimes for the burning of or setting fire to certain other buildings. Like the fraudulently setting fire to a dwelling house statute, these statutes do not require a person to actually burn or set fire to the structure and make it a crime for a person to “aid, counsel or procure” the burning of these structures.

The burnings of or setting fire to State buildings, schools, uninhabited houses, offices, or warehouses are punishable as a Class F felony. A person who commits a Class F felony must be sentenced to punishment between 10 and 41 months, depending on prior convictions. A person with no prior convictions may receive intermediate punishment, but any person convicted of a Class F felony may receive active jail time.

The burning of or setting fire to churches is punishable as a Class E felony. A person with no prior convictions who is found guilty of a Class E felony receives a sentence between 15 and 31 months of imprisonment. However, prior convictions can increase the sentence to up to 63 months. A person with no prior convictions may receive intermediate punishment, but any person convicted of a Class E felony may receive active jail time.

The burning of or setting fire to a building or structure in process of construction or the burning of or setting fire to boats is punishable as a Class H felony. A person who commits a Class H felony must be sentenced to punishment between four and 25 months, depending on prior convictions. A person with no prior convictions may receive community or intermediate punishment, such as probation. However, any person who commits a Class H may receive active jail time as punishment.

Speak to a Charlotte, NC Arson Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with arson or another burning crime, contact an attorney at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC (704) 714-1450, to discuss your options.
stararrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram