Reckless Burning Laws in Arizona


Arson is the crime of knowingly and maliciously setting fire to a structure, property or wild land area. Examples include deliberately setting fire to another person’s property and setting fire to one’s own property to collect insurance compensation. Arson is a serious offense in Arizona that is classified as a felony.

Law enforcement thoroughly investigates fire crimes. Those charged with arson in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler or Gilbert could be subject to several years in jail. The serious nature of arson makes it imperative that defendants charged with this felony recruit a Mesa arson lawyer to examine their case.

See how JacksonWhite can help with your arson case today. Call us now at (480) 467-4370 for a free case review.

What About Reckless Burning Charges?

Reckless burning is less serious than arson, but not a crime that should be taken lightly. Unlike arson, people who did not intend to start a fire can be charged with reckless burning, so long as their reckless actions are to blame. Because those charged with reckless burning did not intend to start a fire, Arizona classifies the crime as a misdemeanor. Before determining that a fire case is properly classified as reckless burning, however, law enforcement thoroughly investigates the case. Anybody facing criminal charges in a fire case should have a criminal law attorney evaluate their evidence and protect their rights.

JacksonWhite’s arson and criminal law attorneys help those facing charges of arson and reckless burning obtain optimal resolution under the law.

Arson charges in Phoenix, Arizona are always serious. Whether you’ve been accused of causing damage to property or damage to a person, arson is a felony that can lead to plenty of jail time. Arizona law separates arson based upon the intent of the person doing the burning. While all categories are serious, and all demand the representation of a skilled advocate, there are some arson charges that can lead to stiffer penalties.

The Different Penalties for Arson in Arizona

Felony arson itself is defined by Arizona Statutes 13-1703 and 13-1704 as “knowingly and unlawfully damages a structure or property by knowingly causing a fire or explosion.” The law is necessarily broad to include many different types of burning, including explosions with fireworks. The important distinction for felony arson is that a person “knowingly” creates a fire or explosion. Simply leaving some burning trash that catches a neighbor’s house on fire would likely not be categorized as a “knowing” violation. However, burning a car with a can of gasoline would fall right into this category.

The law does provide some penalty for what’s known as “reckless burning.” A person who does not start a fire on purpose, but starts one through reckless behavior can expect to be hit with a misdemeanor charge. If you happened to leave your campfire burning and you woke to an entire Arizona forest on fire, then you might face reckless burning charges from state authorities.

The law also makes it illegal to burn crosses or other symbols on public property or public highways. While these symbols can be burned on private property, the person doing the burning must have the permission of the property owner. In addition, this sort of burning must be done in a controlled manner, with the burner being responsible for any damage that might be caused.

Unintentional Vs. Intentional Fires

Arizona is blessed with extraordinary beauty. For this reason, state law makes it a crime to burn wild-lands. The penalties for burning these wild-lands depends upon the intent of the person responsible. Unintentional fires lead to misdemeanors, which can carry jail time, but often lead only to probation and a fine. A person who sets a fire intentionally can expect a felony charge. If that person has no criminal record, then he or she might avoid jail time through a probation plea agreement. People with extensive criminal records can expect harsh penalties.

Arizona law holds out harsher penalties for those who place people in danger during a fire. Setting fire to an abandoned building is punished less harshly than setting fire to a building where people are sleeping. If people are harmed or could be harmed, the penalties increase.

What are the Penalties for Committing Arson in Arizona?

The penalties for an arson conviction will vary depending upon the background of the offender. If you’re a first time felon, then you could face as much as 12.5 years in prison for an intentional arson felony. Likewise, there is some discretion involved in sentencing. Judges and juries are likely to go lighter on those people who don’t harm human beings or those who show contrition. For people who set fires unintentionally, jail time is rare unless there are exacerbating circumstances. The quality of one’s lawyer can also have a major impact on the outcome of these cases.

Experienced representation will argue that their client didn’t intend to destroy anything. Because fire can get out of control quickly, it’s often the job of the lawyer to show that the person involved never meant for the blaze to get so out of control. Hiring a lawyer can be the difference between a harsh sentence and a reasonable one for the accused arsonist.

Call JacksonWhite to Get the Results You Want

If you are facing these charges in Phoenix, AZ, an arson attorney from JacksonWhite Criminal Defense will provide you with the representation that you need. Do not face the courts alone.


Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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