Salt Lake City Arson Defense Attorney

Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer

If you believe you may be under investigation for arson in Utah, or if one of your family members was recently arrested for arson, it is urgent that you contact an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney, like Darwin Overson of Overson & Bugden.  A conviction arising from arson, or related offenses like aggravated arson or reckless burning, could cause you to be fined hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Depending on the severity of the alleged offense, you also risk a sentence ranging from several months in jail to the rest of your life in prison.

You need to take immediate action to protect your rights and preserve your reputation.  The sooner you get an experienced Utah arson lawyer involved in your case, the better position you will be in to meet the charges with an aggressive legal strategy.  If you or a loved one has been charged with arson, aggravated arson, or reckless burning in Utah, call the law offices of Overson & Bugden as soon as possible at (801) 758-2287 for a free and confidential legal consultation.

What is the Difference Between Arson, Aggravated Arson, and Reckless Burning?

There are three types of arson and fire-related crimes in Utah’s criminal code:

  1. Arson
  2. Aggravated Arson
  3. Reckless Burning

Arson is prosecuted under Utah Code § 76-6-102.  A person is charged with arson when he or she allegedly uses fire or explosives to intentionally damage:

  • Another person’s property.
  • Any property, including their own, for the purpose of committing insurance fraud.

Like many other crimes, arson also has an “aggravated” version, which is more serious because of the way the offense is defined.  In contrast to arson, which specifically involves property damage, aggravated arson, which is defined by Utah Code § 76-6-103, involves using fire or explosives to intentionally damage:

  • Any structure or vehicle that has a person inside, other than someone taking part in the offense.
  • A “habitable structure.”  This term is somewhat misleading because a habitable structure can be any building at all – even if no one is actually present when the offense allegedly occurs.  Even cars, boats, and airplanes are considered to be habitable structures.

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Reckless burning, which is defined by Utah Code § 76-6-104, is a related but different type of offense.  A person commits reckless burning when he or she:

  • “[R]ecklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion which endangers human life.”
  • Starts a fire without taking reasonable precautions to ensure the flames will not spread beyond the fire pit.
  • Starts a fire and fails to control it, put it out, or notify a fire department, despite knowing it could cause death or property damage.
  • Accidentally damages property with a fire or explosive.  If such damage is inflicted intentionally, the person will be charged with arson.

The Sentencing and Penalty Guidelines for Starting a Fire in Utah

There are two types of criminal offenses in Utah: misdemeanors and felonies.  Both of these categories are divided into subcategories, with a different set of penalties for each.

There are three types of misdemeanors in the state of Utah.  They are called Class C misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and Class A misdemeanors.  Any offense more serious than a Class A misdemeanor is a felony.

There are also three types of felonies in Utah.  They are called third degree felonies, second degree felonies, and first degree felonies.  A first degree felony is the most serious type of non-capital crime you can be convicted of.

Arson can range anywhere from a Class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony, depending on the financial worth of the destroyed or damaged property, as explained below.

Class B Misdemeanor

  • Property Damage – Less than $500
  • Sentence – Up to 6 months in jail
  • Fine – Up to $1,000

Class A Misdemeanor

  • Property Damage – $500 to $1,499
  • Sentence – Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine – Up to $2,500

Third Degree Felony

  • Property Damage – $1,500 to $4,999
  • Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
  • Fine – Up to $5,000

Second Degree Felony

  • Property Damage – $5,000 or more
  • Sentence – 1 to 15 years in prison
  • Fine – Up to $10,000

Certain circumstances, if present, can also impact how a crime is categorized and punished.  For example, arson is a second degree felony if someone gets seriously injured, regardless of the financial value of any damaged property.

Aggravated Arson Sentencing and Penalty Guidelines in Utah

Aggravated arson is always a first degree felony.  In addition to being fined as much as $10,000, a person convicted of a first degree felony could be imprisoned for anywhere from five years to life.

Reckless Burning Sentencing and Penalty Guidelines in Utah

Reckless burning can be classified as a Class C, Class B, or Class A misdemeanor, similar to arson, as explained below.

Class C Misdemeanor

  • Property Damage – $150 to $499
  • Sentence – Up to 3 months in jail (90 days)
  • Fine – Up to $750


Class B Misdemeanor

  • Property Damage – $500 to $1,499
  • Sentence – Up to 6 months in jail
  • Fine – Up to $1,000

Class A Misdemeanor

  • Property Damage – $1,500 or more
  • Sentence – Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine – Up to $2,500

Our Salt Lake City Arson Defense Attorneys Can Help

Utah criminal attorney Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience representing adults and juveniles accused of arson and other felonies and misdemeanors in communities across the state of Utah.  Though Overson & Bugden is based in Salt Lake City, our Utah criminal defense law firm also represents defendants in Cache County, Daggett County, Davis County, Iron County, Tooele County, Utah County, and many other locations.  If your loved one is in custody at a county jail or holding center, Darwin Overson can travel to them for an emergency attorney visit.

Arson is a serious matter.  If you or someone you love has been accused of this crime, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  Call the law offices of Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 right away for a free legal consultation.  We will keep your information confidential.