Arson is generally the willful or malicious burning or destruction of any building or structure, regardless of ownership. In Michigan there are six types of Arson that a person may be charged with:

1st Degree Arson

               Is the willful burning, or damage and destruction by fire or explosion, of:

(1)                     A multi-unit building or structure in which at least one of the units is a dwelling, regardless of whether it is occupied;

(2)                     Any building or real property, if the fire results in a physical injury to another individual;

(3)                     A mine;

First degree Arson is punishable by life imprisonment or any term of years, or by either a fine of no more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged (whichever is greater), or both. MCL 750.72

2nd Degree Arson

               Is the willful or malicious burning, damaging, or destruction by fire or explosion of a dwelling, regardless if it is occupied or not. Second-degree arson is a felony punishable by no more than 20 years imprisonment, or a fine of either $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged (whatever is greater), or both. MCL 750.73.

3rd Degree Arson

               Is the willful or malicious burning by fire or explosion of any of the following:

(1) Any building or structure, or its contents, regardless of whether it is occupied or not at the time of the fire or explosion;

(2) Any personal property having a value of $20,000.00 or more;

(3) Any personal property having a value of $1,000.00 or more if the person has 1 or more prior convictions;

3rd degree Arson is a felony punishable by no more than 10 years in prison, or a fine of no more than $20,000.00 or 3 time the value of the property damaged (whatever is greater), or both. MCL 750.74.

4th Degree Arson

               Is the willful or malicious burning of any of the following:

(1) Any personal property worth $1,000.00 or more, but less than $20,000.00;

(2) Any personal property having a value of $200.00 or more if the person has 1 or more prior convictions;

(3) Any woods, prairie, or grounds of another person. Or permits a fire to pass from their own woods, prairie, or grounds to another’s property causing damage or destruction;

4th degree Arson is a felony punishable by no more than 5 years imprisonment, a fine of no more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the value of the damaged property (whichever is greater), or both. MCL 750.75

5th Degree Arson

               A person is guilty of 5th degree Arson if they have intentionally damaged or destroyed by fire or explosive, any personal property having a value of $1,000.00 or less and if they have 1 or more prior convictions under the Arson statute. Personal property includes: an automobile, van, truck, motorcycle, trailer, or other personally owned property.

5th degree arson is a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 1 year in prison, a fine of no more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged (whatever is greater), or both.

Arson of Insured Property

               It is a felony in MI for a person to willfully or maliciously burn, damage or destroy by fire or explosive any of the following:

(1) Any dwelling that is insure against loss from fire or explosion with the intent to defraud the insurer, regardless of ownership;

(2) Any building or structure that is insured against loss from fire or explosion with the intent to defraud the insurer;

(3) Any person property that is insure against loss from fire or explosion with intent to defraud the insurer.

Arson of Insured Property is punishable by up to life imprisonment, a fine of $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property destroyed (whichever is greater), or both. MCL 750.76.

Prohibited Intentional Acts

In addition it is a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year imprisonment, a fine of no more than $2,000.00 or 3 time the value of the property destroyed or damaged (whichever is greater), for anyone to willfully burn, damage, or destroy by fire or explosive any:

(1) Personal property that is worth more than $200, but less than $1,000.00;

(2) Personal property of less than $200.00 if the person has 1 or more prior convictions;

(3) Personal property less than $200.00

(4) Hotel, motel, or its contents by negligence, which causes danger to the life or property of another person. MCL 750. 78.

Intent to Commit or Aid in Arson of Any Degree

A person who uses, places, or distributes an inflammable, combustible, or explosive material or liquid, near a building, real or personal property, with the intent to commit or aid in the act of arson can be guilty of either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the property value, property purpose, and prior criminal record. MCL 750.79

It is a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year imprisonment, a fine of no more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property destroyed (whichever is greater), or both, if the property damaged had a value less than $200.00, or the property has a value less than $1,000.00 and the person has 1 prior conviction under the arson statute.

It is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment, a fine of no more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the destroyed property (whichever is greater), or both, if any of the following apply:

(1) The property is worth more than $1,000.00;

(2) The property is a dwelling;

(3)  It was done with the intent to defraud the insurer of the property;

(4) The person has two or more prior convictions under the statute.

Definitions under the Arson Statute (MCL 750.71)

  • Building: includes any structure regardless of class and any structure that is appurtenant or connected.
  • Burn: means to set fire to, or do any act that results in a fire such as persuading another to do such an act.
  • Dwelling: includes (but is not limited to) any building, vehicle, watercraft, or trailer meant for human habitation that was actually lived in, or could have been reasonably assumed to have been lived in, at the time of the fire or explosion.
  • Physical Injury: includes (but is not limited to): the loss or use of limb, loss or use of a foot, hand finger or thumb, loss or use of an eye or an ear, loss or substantial impairment of bodily function, serious visible disfigurement, a comatose state that lasts for more than 3 days, measurable brain or mental impairment, a skull fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, loss of an organ, heart attack, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, some inhalation, a burn, or poisoning.

Neil Rockind, P.C. is a criminal defense firm located in Southfield, Michigan and is home to two (2) of Michigan’s most aggressive and respected criminal defense lawyers.  Neil Rockind has obtained acquittals and successfully defended people accused of participating in Arson in many cases.  Neil Rockind began his career in the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office as an assistant prosecutor and is nicknamed “The Rockweiler” for his aggressive and successful style.  Rockind has been named a Super Lawyer, Top Criminal Defense Lawyer, Best of Detroit by Hour Magazine, among the Top 100 Lawyers in Michigan, among the Top 50 Lawyers in Michigan and among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by a national trial lawyers organization.  Colin Daniels another member of Neil Rockind P.C., has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine.  If you or a loved one is charged with the crime of participating in Arson contact 248.208.3800 or email us at jmellas@rockindpc.com to make an appointment and see how much we can help.

Neil Rockind, Metro Detroit's Finest Trial Lawyer

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