Arson in Oklahoma – Laws & Punishments – Criminal Defense Lawyer

Arson in the First Degree

arson defense attorney oklahomaIt’s illegal to:

  • willfully and maliciously
    • set fire to or burn, or
    • by the use of any explosive device,
      • accelerant,
      • ignition device,
      • heat-producing device, or
      • substance,
    • destroy in whole or in part, or cause to be burned or destroyed, or
      • aid,
      • counsel, or
      • procure the burning or destruction of any building or structure or contents of the structure, inhabited or occupied by one or more people, regardless of whose owns the property, or to
  • willfully and maliciously
    • set fire to or burn, or
    • by the use of any explosive device,
      • accelerant,
      • ignition device,
      • heat-producing device or
      • substance
    • cause a person to be burned, or
      • aid,
      • counsel, or
      • procure the burning of a person.

The language “occupied or inhabited” is construed as encompassing two distinct situations: a building or structure actually contains persons at the time the crime is committed (occupied); or the building is ordinarily used as a lodging, although it might be unoccupied at the time the crime is perpetrated (inhabited).

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 35 years. The maximum fine is $25,000.

It’s also considered first degree arson if you’re

  • manufacturing, attempting to manufacture or endeavoring to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance and you
    • destroy in whole or in part, or
    • cause to be burned or destroyed,
    • or aid,
      • counsel, or procure the burning or destruction of any building or contents of the building, inhabited or occupied by one or more people (regardless of who owns the property)
  • manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance and you
    • cause a person to be burned, or
    • aids,
    • counsel, or
    • procure the burning of a person.

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 35 years. The maximum fine is $25,000. This is considered a violent crime and an 85% crime in Oklahoma.

Source: 21 O.S. § 1401

Terms Defined

Malicious—A wish to vex, annoy or injure.

Willful—Purposeful. It doesn’t require any intent to violate law, or to injure another, or to acquire any advantage.

Arson in the Second Degree

Second degree arson occurs when someone willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or by the use of any explosive device or substance or while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance”

  • destroys in whole or in part, or
  • causes to be burned or destroyed, or
  • aids, counsels,
  • or procures the burning or destruction of any uninhabited or unoccupied building or structure or contents of the building/property, regardless of who owns the property.

Note that arson in the second degree doesn’t require someone be in the building or get burned. Second-degree arson differs from first-degree arson solely in the type of structure protected. First-degree arson is limited to inhabited or occupied buildings and structures and related contents. The second-degree arson statute protects any unoccupied or uninhabited structure as well as its contents. The elements are identical to first-degree arson except for the fourth element.

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 25 years. The maximum fine is $20,000.

Source: 21 O.S. § 1402

Arson in the Third Degree

Third degree arson occurs when someone willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or by the use of any explosive device or substance destroys in whole or in part, or causes to be burned or destroyed, or aids, counsels or procures the burning of any property whatsoever, including:

  • automobiles,
  • trucks,
  • trailers,
  • motorcycles,
  • boats,
  • standing farm crops,
  • pasture lands,
  • forest lands, or
  • any other property not herein specifically named, such property worth at least $50, regardless of who owns the property

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 15 years. The maximum fine is $10,000.

Third-degree arson differs from the first and second degrees of arson because the statute protects any real or personal property with a value of $50 or more, whereas the first- and second-degree arson statutes protect structures and buildings. The elements of third-degree arson are otherwise identical to the elements of first- and second-degree arson. Third-degree arson may be a lesser included offense of first- and second-degree arson.

It’s also third degree arson to willfully and maliciously, sets fire to or burns or by use of any explosive device or substance destroys in whole or in part, or causes to be burned or destroyed, or aids, counsels, or procures the burning or destruction of any building, property, or other chattels (regardless of who owns the property) that’s insured against loss or damage by fire or explosion with the intent to injure or defraud the insurer.

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 15 years. The maximum fine is $10,000.

Source: 21 O.S. § 1403

Arson in the Fourth Degree

Arson in the fourth degree is a specific attempt statute and prohibits the State from bringing an arson charge under the general attempt statutes. Fourth degree arson occurs when someone willfully and maliciously attempts to set fire to or burn or attempts by use of any explosive device or substance to destroy in whole or in part, or causes to be burned or destroyed, or attempts to counsel or procure the burning or destruction of any building or property mentioned in the first, second, and third degree arson laws. This part criminalizes an attempt that either fails or is thwarted by unforeseen external circumstances.

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 10 years. The maximum fine is $5,000.

The placing or distributing of any flammable, explosive, or combustible material or substance or any device in any building or property mentioned arson degrees one-three, in an arrangement or preparation with intent to eventually willfully and maliciously set fire to or burn or to procure the setting fire to or burning of same,constitutes an attempt to burn such building or property.

This part criminalizes conduct that would otherwise be deemed “preparatory,” and thus insufficient to constitute an attempt, as opposed to the “perpetrating” conduct encompassed above. Under this section, merely distributing or placing flammable or combustible material in or on any property, with the requisite intent eventually to burn such property, is a criminal attempt.

This crime is a felony. The maximum punishment in the Department of Corrections is 10 years. The maximum fine is $5,000.

Source: 21 O.S. § 1404

Endangerment of Life by Arson

It’s a felony for anyone to commit an arson offense and endangers a human life (including all emergency service personnel)

This crime is a felony. The range of punishment in the Department of Corrections is 3-10 years. The maximum fine is $10,000. If personal injury results, the minimum punishment in the Department of Corrections is seven years.

Source: 21 O.S. § 1405

Current as of April 8, 2020.

Charged with arson in Oklahoma? Call Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer Frank Urbanic in OKC for a free case consultation.

Don’t panic! Call Urbanic.® 405-633-3420