Des Moines Arson Lawyers
Iowa Code Chapter 712 is about arson.
If you burn stuff down or blow it up, that's arson.
There's a common misconception that arson just involves burning down buildings. As was noted in the well-known case of one gentleman who burned a stolen flag and was convicted of arson, though, the property at issue doesn't have to be a building.
You can be charged with arson if you:
- Cause a fire intending to damage or destroy property
- Cause an explosion intending to damage or destroy property
- Place any burning material in or near property with the intent to destroy or damage the property (or while knowing that the property will probably be destroyed or damaged)
- Place any incendiary or explosive device or material in or near property with the intent to destroy or damage the property (or while knowing that the property will probably be destroyed or damaged)
- Cause a fire or explosion that damages or destroys property while manufacturing or trying to manufacture drugs. For controlled substance arson:
- Even if the owner of the property that you knowingly endangered consented to what you were doing, it's arson.
- Even if you did it in a way that doesn't unreasonably endanger anyone's life or property, it's arson.
- Even if you didn't fraudulently claim damages under an insurance policy, it's arson.
Iowa arson charges come in three degrees. Depending on the property that's at issue, the foreseeability of people being around, and whether a fire fighter dies, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges.
Arson in the First Degree
If one or more people can be reasonably anticipated to be present in or near the property you burn, you will be charged with first-degree arson. You will also be charged with first degree arson if a fire fighter dies.
If you are convicted of Iowa Arson in the First Degree, you are guilty of a Class B felony and will be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
Arson in the Second Degree
If no one can be reasonably expected to be in or near the property and the arson doesn't result in the death of a firefighter, then the crime is second-degree arson if it involves burning or blowing up:
- A building or a structure
- Real property of any kind
- Standing crops
- Personal property worth $750.01 or more
Second degree arson is a Class C felony. You could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. For second degree arson committed after July 15, 2020, the minimum fine is $1370 and the maximum fine is $13,660. Fines are subject to a 15% crime services surcharge.
For second degree arson offenses committed before July 15, 2020, fines are $1000-$10,000 and subject to a 35% criminal penalty surcharge.
Arson in the Third Degree
Any arson that isn't first degree or second degree is third degree arson. Third-degree arson is an aggravated misdemeanor. You could face up to 2 years in prison. For offenses committed after July 15, 2020, the minimum fine is $855 and the maximum fine is $8,540. Criminal fines are subject to a 15% crime services surcharge.
For offenses committed before July 15, 2020, fines are $625-$6250. Instead of the 15% crime services surcharge, there is a 35% criminal penalty surcharge.