Florida Arson Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Property crimes include everything from vandalism, such as spray-painting a building, to trespassing on someone's yard. One of the most serious property crimes is arson, in which an individual intentionally damaging property through fire or explosives. There are many reasons why people commit arson. Some arsonists are greedy and are involved in insurance fraud; some are angry and are seeking revenge; while others are destructive and just get a thrill out of setting fires. The rationale behind arsonists may differ, but what they have in common is that they have committed a serious offense with significant consequences.

Degrees of Arson

Florida recognizes arson in the first degree and arson in the second degree. First degree arson involves damaging a dwelling or a structure via fire or explosion. A "dwelling" refers to a building, whether it is occupied or not. The "structure" is a building where people are normally present such as correctional facilities, health care facilities (including nursing homes), or religious institutions during hours of operation.

The lesser charge of arson in the second degree involves structures where people are not normally present such as a storage facility after business hours.

Florida Arson Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of Florida arson laws, including links to important code sections.

Statutes

Statutory Elements of Arson

First degree arson is committed when a person willfully and unlawfully, or while committing a felony, uses fire or explosives to damage the following:

  • Any dwelling (occupied or not),
  • Any structure where people are normally present, or
  • Any other structure that he or she knows or reasonably knows is occupied.

Penalty: First degree arson is a felony in the first degree and carries with it a possible sentence of up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. The penalty will usually be higher if personal injury or a fatality occurred, as well as facing additional charges.

Second degree arson is committed when a person willfully and unlawfully, or while committing a felony, uses fire or explosives to damage any property not included in the first degree arson.


Penalty: Second degree arson is a felony in the second degree which means that if you are convicted of this offense, you could face up to 15 years in prisons and fines up to $10,000. The penalty will usually be higher if personal injury or a fatality occurred, as well as facing additional charges.

Possible Defenses

  • Lack of intent
  • Mistake

Related Offense

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.

Florida Arson Laws: Related Resources

Talk to a Florida Attorney about Your Arson Case

Your life will be greatly impacted if you're convicted under Florida's arson laws. Because defending against arson charges can be difficult, consider having an experienced attorney on your side. Talk to a Florida criminal attorney today to learn more.

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