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The varying levels of consequences for arson charges in Oklahoma

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Law

Arson, the intentional act of setting fire to property, can result in destruction and loss of life. Oklahoma laws recognize the act of arson as a criminal offense, and a conviction can bring about serious penalties.

The nature of the property, the presence or absence of people and the offender’s intent all play a role in determining the charges and potential punishments.

First-degree arson

In Oklahoma, first-degree arson occurs when someone sets fire to any building or occupied structure where people usually live or are present at the time of the fire. This category includes homes, hotels, apartments and more.

A conviction of first-degree arson can lead to a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to 35 years.

Second-degree arson

Second-degree arson occurs when someone sets fire to any unoccupied building, structure or wildland areas not included in the first-degree definition. While the fire may not directly endanger lives, it can still result in significant property damage and risk to firefighters.

A second-degree arson conviction can result in a fine of up to $20,000 and a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

Third-degree arson

Third-degree arson charges arise when someone sets fire to personal property to defraud an insurer. Examples include setting fire to a car or other personal belongings to collect insurance money.

A conviction can lead to up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Reckless burning

Reckless burning is a lesser offense that involves setting fire to outdoor areas without intending to cause significant damage. Examples include setting fires without taking proper precautions or in violation of local burn bans.

A conviction of reckless burning can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Understanding these distinctions helps clarify the complexity of arson law in Oklahoma.