The crime of Arson in the state of Ohio is a serious charge. Even if the value of the damaged property is less than $1,000 you can still face felony charge(s).
How Does Ohio Define Arson?
The crime of Arson is set forth in Section 2909.03 of the Ohio Revised Code and at its basic level states that no individual shall use fire or explosion to cause physical harm to the property of another without their consent. You can also be charged with arson if it is discovered that the damage was done with intent to commit fraud (Section 2909.03 (A)(2)(4)(6)), such as attempting to collect insurance for the damaged property. There are also specific provisions in Section 2909.03 (A) and (B), specific to the damage of city/state buildings and property, such as a courthouse, school or public land that will result in being charged with arson. It is essential to note that arson is not restricted to just structures of other property, but also privately or publicly owned lands. You can face arson charges if physical damage is done to parks, brush-covered land, wetlands, and other similar property. Don’t assume that damage caused to what appears to be deserted land does not come with serious criminal consequences.
Arson in the State of Ohio as a Misdemeanor
Arson is considered a first-degree misdemeanor (M-1) if the value of the damage does not exceed $1,000. If convicted, an M-1, it is punishable up 6 months in jail, a fine not to exceed $1,000 and you will be ordered to pay restitution. You can also receive probation.
Arson in the State of Ohio as a Third or Fourth-Degree Felony
If the damage to property, exceeds $1,000, or you cause of create a substantial risk of physical harms to a person’s property, a public building, private or public lands or attempt to file an insurance claim because of the foregoing, you will be charged with a fourth-degree felony. A fourth-degree felony charge is punishable between 6 and 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
The charge escalates to a third-degree felony if the crime of arson was committed through hire or other consideration. If convicted of a third-degree felony the penalties are 9, 12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 months in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Whether you are convicted of a fourth or third-degree felony, you could receive court community control sanctions (also called probation) instead of a prison sentence and be required to pay court costs, restitution and fine. If you are sent to prison you may also be placed on three years of post-release control (also called parole) after your release from prison
Aggravated Arson in the State of Ohio as a First or Second-Degree Felony
If the fire or explosion created a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person other than the offender or created, through the offer or acceptance of an agreement for hire or other consideration, a substantial risk of physical harm to any occupied structure, then arson is a first-degree felony. If convicted of first-degree arson the law presumes you are to be sent to prison though that presumption can be overcome by the defendant at sentencing. The penalties for a first-degree felony are between 3 and 11 years in prison (in one year increments) and may include court costs, a fine not to exceed $20,000 and restitution. If you are sent to prison you will also be placed on five years of post-release control (also called parole) after your release from prison.
If the fire or explosion caused physical harm to any occupied structure then arson is a second-degree felony. If convicted of second degree arson the law presumes you are to be sent to prison though that presumption can be overcome by the defendant at sentencing. The penalties for a second-degree felony are between 2 and 8 years in prison (in one year increments) and may include court costs, a fine not to exceed $15,000 and restitution. If you are sent to prison you will also be placed on three years of post-release control (also called parole) after your release from prison
If you have been charged with arson in Ohio
If you have been charged with arson in Ohio, an experienced criminal defense attorney will help determine whether you have any defenses to the charge(s) and thoroughly discuss your options. Should you decide to go to trial, a skilled defense attorney is an absolute necessity. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.