As criminal defense attorneys in Charleston, South Carolina, our lawyers deal with the defense of arson charges. In South Carolina, a conviction for arson can result in serious consequences including jail time and other penalties. In this article, we explain what is the crime of arson in South Carolina and the penalties for arson.

South Carolina’s Statutory Definition of Arson

In South Carolina, the definition of arson can be found in Section 16-11-110. There are three degrees of arson as follows:

FIRST DEGREE

A person who wilfully and maliciously causes an explosion, sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned or aids, counsels, or procures a burning that results in damage to a building, structure, or any property . . . , whether the property of the person or another, which results, either directly or indirectly, in death or serious bodily injury to a person is guilty of the felony of arson in the first degree . . . .

SECOND DEGREE

A person who wilfully and maliciously causes an explosion, sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned or aids, counsels, or procures a burning that results in damage to a dwelling house, church or place of worship, public or private school facility, manufacturing plant or warehouse, building where business is conducted, institutional facility, or any structure designed for human occupancy including local and municipal buildings, whether the property of the person or another, is guilty of the felony of arson in the second degree . . . .

THIRD DEGREE

A person . . . who wilfully and maliciously:

(1) causes an explosion, sets fire to, burns, or causes a burning which results in damage to a building or structure other than those specified in subsections (A) and (B), a railway car, a ship, boat, or other watercraft, an aircraft, an automobile or other motor vehicle, or personal property; or

(2) aids, counsels, or procures a burning that results in damage to a building or structure other than those specified in subsections (A) and (B), a railway car, a ship, boat, or other watercraft, an aircraft, an automobile or other motor vehicle, or personal property with intent to destroy or damage by explosion or fire, whether the property of the person or another.

. . . is guilty of the felony of arson in the third degree.

Is An Accidental Fire that Causes Damage Considered Arson in South Carolina?

No. Under South Carolina law, only those person who intentionally and maliciously sets fire to a structure can be convicted of arson.

Can I Be Convicted of Arson in South Carolina if the Fire Did Not Cause Damage?

No. To be convicted of arson in South Carolina, the fire must cause damage. Under the South Carolina statute, damage is defined as:

application of fire or explosive that results in burning, charring, blistering, scorching, smoking, singeing, discoloring, or changing the fiber or composition of a building, structure, or any property specified in this section.

What Are the Penalties for Arson in South Carolina?

The penalties for arson in South Carolina are as follows:

  1. First Degree Arson – Not less than 30 years in jail.
  2. Second Degree Arson – Not less than 3 years in jail and no more than 25 years.
  3. Third Degree Arson – Up to 15 years in jail.

Criminal Defense Attorneys for Arson Charges Near Charleston, South Carolina

If you’ve been accused of the crime of arson, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a FREE consultation. We’ll review your case to determine what defenses there may be to your charge such as whether the fire was accidental, whether there is a question of damage, or whether there is an issue of mistaken identity.