Ohio Arson Laws

Fire can quickly get out of control and result in substantial property damage and the loss of life. You could be found guilty of arson if you purposefully start a fire that results in such damage.

Arson is the intentional damage to property by fire or explosion. Property includes both real property such as a house, a building, or land, and personal property such as car, boat, or airplane. The property does not need to be destroyed for a conviction. Any degree of damage, whether by fire or explosion, is sufficient.

Elements of An Ohio Arson Charge

The crime of arson may seem uncomplicated. However, being convicted of arson involves the proof of some very specific actions. In Ohio, the state must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a person did the following:

  • Use fire or an explosion,
  • To knowingly cause or create,
  • A substantial risk of physical harm to
  • The property of another person without their consent; or
  • The property of the defendant or another person with the purpose to defraud;
  • Any building or structure owned by the government; or
  • The property of another person with an offer or agreement for hire.

Arson of an Occupied Building

If the building damaged during the arson is an occupied structure, the crime is charged as aggravated arson. There are increased penalties because of the risk of physical harm to individuals. Ohio defines an occupied structure as any house, building, outbuilding, watercraft, aircraft, railroad car, truck, trailer, tent, vehicle, or shelter. A charge of aggravated arson can occur whether or not any person is actually present at the time the fire was set.

Arsonist Must Pay Back the Firefighting Costs

Anyone convicted of arson may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that they may have to pay back the cost of putting out the fire they started, and the cost of any subsequent investigation. That law states that these expenses are the debt of the person who committed the act. The defendant can also be held personally liable for the cost of the property damaged in the fire.

Overview of Ohio Arson Laws

This chart highlights the primary statutes, defenses, and penalties related to a criminal charge of arson in Ohio.

Ohio Statutes
Penalties and Sentences Property Damage less than $500
  • Misdemeanor in the 1st Degree
  • Up to 180 days in jail or fines up to $1,000

Property Damage more than $500

  • Felony in the 4th Degree
  • Prison sentence from 6 to 18 months and/or fines not more than $5,000

Arson with the Intent to Defraud

  • Felony in the 4th Degree
  • Prison sentence from 6 to 18 months and/or fines not more than $5,000

Arson with Agreement for Hire

  • Felony in the 3rd Degree
  • Prison sentence from 1 to 5 years, and/or fines not more than $10,000

Arson of Occupied Structure

  • Felony in the 2nd Degree
  • Prison sentence from 2 to 8 years and/or fines not more than $15,000

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts, ballot initiatives, and other means. It's important to verify the laws you're researching by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified Ohio criminal defense attorney.

Research the Law

Looking for additional information on arson and related laws in Ohio? The following links are a great starting point:

Get Professional Legal Help with Your Arson Case

Arson is a serious criminal charge and a convicted will impact your future for years to come. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help evaluate the evidence against you and develop a strong defense on your behalf. If you're charged with arson or any other crime, it may be time to contact a criminal defense attorney in your area to better understand your legal options.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.