Friday, June 30, 2006


Arson is the crime of setting a fire with intent to cause damage. The criminal damage of property in English law has been consolidated into a single offence in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 although the use of the word has been retained.

Arson in the United States:

The common law definition of arson originally contained four elements; the crime required the malicious act of burning the dwelling of another person. Although arson fires are referred to as incendiary, not all incendiary fires are considered arson, the difference being malicious intent.

The first element, "malice," required that the person responsible for the burning must have intended the structure to be damaged by fire, or must have known that there was an obvious risk that the structure would be damaged and shown reckless disregard for this risk. This element of the common law has been changed by statutes in many jurisdictions. Willful or negligent misconduct resulting in a forest fire, e.g., tossing a spent match or cigarette out of a vehicle in a closed area, is also subject to prosecution under many arson statutes. It is not uncommon that arson is committed by a "disturbed" person who wants the hero's role for calling in the fire department.

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