Arizona Arson Laws

Arson is a serious offense in most states, and Arizona is no exception. Specifically, arson is a felony in the state, and is defined as the crime that occurs when a person knowingly and deliberately damages a structure, property or wild land area by knowingly causing a fire or explosion. For example, someone can be convicted of arson if they purposely cause an explosion or start a fire that ends up damaging another person's property or structure, or if they purposely set fire to their own property or structure in order to collect proceeds from an insurance claim, for example.

Other types of arson crimes include reckless burning, arson of an occupied structure, and arson of an occupied jail or prison facility. In general, reckless burning is commited when a person recklessly causes a fire or explosion which results in damage to an occupied structure, just a structure, wildland or property. On the other hand, a person commits arson of an occupied structure by knowingly and unlawfully damaging an occupied structure by knowingly causing a fire or explosion. Similarly, a person commits arson of an occupied jail or prison facility by knowingly causing a fire or explosion that results in physical damage to a jail or prison facility.

Arizona Arson Laws at a Glance

The penalties associated with each type of arson crime are reflected in the table below.

Code Section Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1703, et seq.
Arson of Structure
  • Class 4 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 18 months

Arson of Property (worth more than $1,000)

  • Class 4 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 18 months

Arson of Property (worth $100-$1,000)

  • Class 5 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 9 months

Arson of Property (worth less than $100)

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • 3 years of probation
  • $2,500 fine plus surcharges
Code Section Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1704, et seq.
Arson of an Occupied Structure
  • Class 2 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 4 years
Code Section Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1705, et seq.
Arson of an Occupied Jail or Prison Facility
  • Class 4 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 18 months
Code Section Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1706, et seq.
Burning of Wildlands

If done with criminal negligence:

  • Class 2 Misdemeanor
  • Up to 4 months in prison
  • 2 years of probation
  • $750 fine plus surcharges

If done recklessly:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • 3 years of probation
  • $2,500 fine plus surcharges

If done intentionally:

  • Class 6 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 1.5 years

If done intentionally and puts another structure/person in danger:

  • Class 3 Felony
  • Minimum prison term of 5 years
Code Section Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1707, et seq.
Unlawful Cross Burning
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • 3 years of probation
  • $2,500 fine plus surcharges
Code Section Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1708, et seq.
Unlawful Symbol Burning
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • 3 years of probation
  • $2,500 fine plus surcharges

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Burning of Wildlands

The crime of burning of wildlands occurs when any person, without lawful authority, intentionally or recklessly sets or causes a fire on any wildland other than that person's own, or sets a fire that travels from their own grounds to that of another. However, there are exceptions to this definition, including:

  • Open burning that's lawfully conducted in the course of agricultural operations
  • Fire management operations that are conducted by a political subdivision
  • Prescribed or controlled burns that are conducted with written authority from the state forester
  • Lawful activities that are allowed under state, tribal or federal agency law
  • In the absence of a fire ban or other burn restrictions to a person on public lands, setting a fire for purposes of cooking or warming that does not spread sufficiently from its source to require action by a fire control agency

Unlawful Cross or Symbol Burning

The crime of unlawful cross burning is commited when a person burns a cross on the property of another person without that person's permission or on a highway or any other public place with the intent to intimidate any person or group. Similarly, the crime of unlawful symbol burning is commited when a person burns any symbol (not addressed by the state's unlawful cross burning statute) on the property of another person without that person's permission or on a highway or any other public place with the intent to intimidate any person or group.

In both crimes of unlawful cross burning and unlawful symbol burning, the intent to intimidate cannot be inferred solely from the act of burning the cross or symbol, but must be proven with independent evidence.

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As you can see, arson crimes can carry serious consequences in Arizona. If you've been charged with arson in Arizona, you'll want to know the penalties you face, the defenses you can raise and the rights you are entitled to. Contact a local attorney for a free initial case review at no obligation today.

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