The offense of arson is arguably one of the most dangerous crimes that you can commit. Although categorized as a property crime, it is much more serious than other property crimes such as vandalism because arson has the potential to cause personal injury including bodily harm or even death. Because of the possible threat to human life, arson is generally a felony offense with severe penalties.
Degrees of Arson
North Carolina recognizes two degrees of arson: first degree and second degree. First degree, the more serious of the arson offenses, occurs when an individual intentionally burns someone's dwelling, mobile home or trailer and the structure is occupied at the time of the burning. If the dwelling burned was unoccupied at the time of the burning, then the offense is arson in the second degree. First degree arson is punishable as a Class D felony; second degree is punishable as a Class G felony.
Types of Buildings and Structures
North Carolina's arson laws also make stark distinction based on the types of involved. There are separate offenses for the burning of certain government buildings such as the State Capitol and the Legislative Building and the building of schools, churches, and other religious buildings. All of these crimes are Class H felonies.
North Carolina Arson Laws at a Glance
The chart below provides a summary of laws related to North Carolina's arson laws, including links to important code sections.
|Penalties and Sentencing||
North Carolina uses a complex sentencing formula; the actual sentence will depend on factors such as prior criminal history. The following are general sentencing guidelines.
First degree arson
Second degree arson
Class H felony
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.
North Carolina Arson Laws: Related Resources
Talk to a North Carolina Attorney about Your Arson Case
Arson is a serious crime that severely impacts all participants. If you've been charged with violating North Carolina's arson laws, then consider talking to a criminal defense attorney who can help you front a solid defense. Use Findlaw's attorney directory to find a local attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.