In Oklahoma, where the winds come sweeping down the plains and where drought is the norm, we know how quickly a fire can spread. An act of nature, a careless or negligent act, or a deliberately set fire can quickly escalate, leaving extensive property damage, injury, and death in its wake.
Wildfires in Oklahoma cost millions of dollars in property damage and firefighting resources. According to the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Science and National Resources there were 17,499 wildfires in the state from 2000 to 2007. While more than a third of these fires burned less than an acre of property, some were quite large, burning upwards of 10,000 acres. During that time, a total of 638,455 acres of land in Oklahoma burned. In 2009, wildfires caused $30 million, destroyed more than 70 homes, and claimed one life. In 2011, it cost $5 million to control and contain a single wildfire in southwestern Oklahoma that burned more than 40,000 acres.
With the destruction of property and the risk of human life, deliberately set fires are harshly penalized by state law. Arson is a crime prosecuted by degrees, and the most egregious offense carries the possibility of decades behind bars.
Being accused of intentionally setting a fire is a grave charge. If you are suspected of starting a fire, or if you have been arrested on an arson complaint, assert your right to an attorney and call an experienced defense lawyer for prompt legal counsel.
First Degree Arson
Arson is charged in the first degree when a person willfully and intentionally sets fire to a person or an occupied building or when a person causes a fire in an occupied building while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), .
Acts of arson include setting fire and burning or causing the destruction of property through the use of an "explosive device, accelerant, ignition device, heat-producing device, or substance."
Whether a pyromaniac sets fire to a building simply to watch the destruction, an assailant attempts to injury or disfigure a person through burning the victim, or a meth lab explodes, the responsible person may be charged with first degree arson. If convicted of arson, a defendant faces the possibility of 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
No one convicted of arson in any degree may work as a paid or volunteer firefighter, including anyone who pleads guilty or no contest or who is subject to a deferred judgment for arson.
Second Degree Arson
While first degree arson charges deal with fire and destruction of an occupied building, second degree arson is charged when the same acts apply to an unoccupied building. When a person willfully and maliciously sets fire or burns an unoccupied building, or a fire or explosion destroys an unoccupied structure while a person is manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a CDS, that person is charged with arson in the second degree. Second degree arson is a felony punishable by a maximum of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Third Degree Arson
First and second degree arson deal with fires intentionally set to occupied or unoccupied buildings. Typically, third degree arson is the intentional and malicious burning of property other than buildings valued at $50 or more, including vehicles, crops, pastures, forest land, and more. It is also considered arson in the third degree if a person burns a building or property with the intent to commit insurance fraud. Third degree arson carries a potential sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Fourth Degree Arson
Arson in the fourth degree is the attempt to set a fire or cause property to burn, or the placing of an incendiary device or flammable material in any building with the intent to cause a fire or the burning of the property. In short, attempted arson is charged as fourth degree arson. It is a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Codified in 21 O.S. § 1767.1, bombing is considered "malicious mischief," a term which seems to minimize the serious nature of the offense. Mischief seems to imply the general troublemaking of teens with non-injuries firecrackers or stink bombs, but these acts are not penalized by the statute. More than simply mischievous, bombing is destructive and violent and can lead to critical injury or death.
Bombing, attempted bombing, and bomb threats are felony offenses. Specific prohibited acts include:
- Placing an explosive or incendiary device on, in, under, against, or near a building, vehicle, or mode of transportation with the unlawful intent to damage or destroy the structure
- Placing an explosive or incendiary device with the intent to damage or destroy the structure when such an act would endanger human life or safety
- Destroying or damaging property or causing bodily injury by detonating an explosive device or igniting an incendiary device
- Possessing, manufacturing, selling, or transporting any explosive or its component parts, an incendiary device, or a simulated bomb with the knowledge and intent that it will be used illegally to damage property or to kill, injure, or intimidate a person
- Placing any explosive, incendiary device, simulated bomb, or foul, poisonous, or injurious substance in or near a building, structure, or method of transportation with the intent to damage property or injure, bother, or coerce a person
- Using an explosive or incendiary device to injure or damage or attempt to injure or damage a person or property
- Making a bomb threat
- Manufacturing, selling, delivering, mailing, or sending an explosive, incendiary device or simulated bomb
- Possessing, displaying, or threatening to use an explosive, incendiary device, or simulated bomb in the commission of a felony
Arson and Bombing Defense in Oklahoma
The state of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City in particular, are all too familiar with the destruction associated with bombing and the use of explosives to effect damage on a massive scale. The state is not likely to take lightly any charge of bombing, threatened bombing, or arson which endangers the lives and property of its citizens.
Whether a prank got out of hand, you were wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit, or your attempt to make a social or political statement led to criminal charges, there are options for your defense that protect your constitutional rights during investigation and due process. Call (405) 418-8888 for more information or to speak confidentially with a defense attorney about your case.
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