Columbia Arson Lawyer

If you are accused of arson, you could face some serious consequences such as a potential prison sentence. Arson also has civil consequences as a conviction can prevent you from securing coverage from your insurance company for any property loss. Furthermore, arson can be linked to other crimes like domestic violence or murder.

It is essential to contact a Columbia arson lawyer as soon as you discover that you are under investigation. Proof that a fire was arson is both subjective and fact-based. You need a defense attorney who understands the prosecution’s burden of proof and can challenge the state’s conclusions.

Arson Laws

South Carolina Code § 16-11-110 covers criminal charges related to arson. Arson is a property crime and is the willful and malicious burning, setting fire to, or causing an explosion in a property. These structures can be anything designed for occupancy, meaning it can be residential or commercial.

It is still arson if a person burns their property and they do not have to commit any other crimes, such as filing for insurance payments, to make this action a criminal offense. The structure does not have to burn down, smoke damage, scorching, charring, blistering, discoloration, or changing the structure’s composition are all qualifying types of damage for Arson.

Malice and intention are also required elements in an arson charge. As a Columbia defense attorney can help explain to the court, it is not arson if someone accidentally causes a fire or explosion. It may be reckless behavior, which could come with civil liability, but it is not arson.

Degrees of Arson

The state has three degrees of arson. Each degree has different facts based on the fire’s outcome and the type of structure. These types may impact the charges someone faces.


A charge of third-degree arson is the burning of railway cars, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicles, and any structure not listed in the second-degree arson statute.

As with the other degrees of arson, a defendant does not have to set fire to be personally responsible for it. Any person who aids in the offense or causes it to happen can also be guilty.


Like third-degree arson, a second-degree arson charge depends on the structure type. The structures that may lead to a second-degree arson charge include dwellings such as houses, places of worship, schools, warehouses, manufacturing plants, businesses, institutional facilities, local or municipal buildings, and any structure designed for human occupancy. These structures support a second-degree arson charge because they are likely to contain people, making the fire more dangerous. This charge carries a mandatory minimum of three to 25 years in prison.


The most severe arson charge — first-degree — results in death or serious bodily injury. This charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.

It is critical to understand that a defendant does not need to intend for the fire to hurt someone for it to be first-degree arson. The only required element is that the defendant maliciously sets the fire. The defendant does not have to be aware that the property was occupied. It is essential to consult with a lawyer as soon as one becomes a suspect in an arson case.

Contact a Columbia Arson Attorney Now

Discovering that you are an arson suspect can be overwhelming. Whether you committed the crime or are an innocent person caught up by prosecutors or insurance companies, you need the help of a Columbia arson lawyer. Schedule a consultation today to review your case and obtain advice on the best way to proceed.