Understanding Massachusetts Arson Laws

Because arson is an expensive and high-profile crime, prosecutors are relentless about pursuing these cases. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that an average of 200,000 intentional fires are started each year, and that they may cause up to $1 billion worth in property damage, for both the government and private property owners. Naturally, the government has paid attention to these statistics.

However, regardless of this supposed extreme cost to American taxpayers, those who are accused of arson are innocent until proven guilty – just like those accused of any other crime. If you’ve been accused of arson, our Boston arson defense lawyer Brad Bailey is here to aggressively advocate on your behalf, and fight the spurious claims prosecutors may bring against you.

What Is Required to Prove Arson in MA?

Arson is always a serious felony charge in the state of Massachusetts, although there are two different levels of arson: Arson 1, and Arson 2. Arson 1 charges are slightly more severe, and apply to “anyone who willfully and maliciously sets fire to, or burns or otherwise destroys property or injures by burning any property” (Massachusetts General Laws, c. 266, section 5).

In order to convict you of Arson 1, the prosecution needs to show that:

  • You acted maliciously, meaning that the fire was set with an unlawful motive.
  • You acted intentionally, meaning that it wasn’t just an accident.
  • The property was either real estate or personal property, like a motor vehicle.
  • The property belonged to another person and cost more than $25.

Arson 2 charges are slightly different, in that the prosecution must instead show beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally “aided, counseled, or procured the burning of a dwelling house or building.” This requires much more than just knowing about the crime in advance, or even knowing the person who allegedly set the fire. The prosecution must make a clear and compelling argument that you, personally, sought to help them commit the crime of arson.

Providing a Strategic Defense in Arson Cases

In arson cases, one of the most common strategies used by prosecution is to unfairly paint the defendant as malicious, even when there’s no tangible evidence to support that claim. Because proving the property’s value and scale of the damage is relatively straightforward, prosecutors may focus more on emotional appeals, and drawing broad conclusions about your motivations, or your prior associations with an arsonist.

You don’t have to fight these egregious and manipulative tactics on your own, however. Our aggressive Boston arson defense attorney has well over 35 years of experience advocating for clients against the often-rigged criminal justice machine. With his extensive experience in state and federal courts alike, he understands exactly how prosecutors think about arson cases, and can easily poke holes in their arguments.

When you need a skilled arson defense lawyer, you can count on Brad Bailey to give you the passionate and fair legal defense you need. Contact Brad Bailey Law at (617) 500-0252 today.


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