Burning Insured Property
Burning insured property is a property crime that involves a willful act or attempt to set fire to, or cause the burning of any personal property of the owner or another, during a time that the property was insured against loss or damage by fire. If a fire is accidently set or caused, then routinely, an insurer will pay the claim. However, if there is evidence that the fire has been set on purpose, then a claim will not be covered and a convicted arsonist can end up in prison for this crime.
As you may know, arson is a serious crime and the statistics regarding arson throughout the country are unsettling. The FBI reported that in 2010 there were 56,825 reported arson crimes. The average loss in such incidents was reported to be at $17, 612. As high as this number is, it is actually a 7.6 percent decrease from the year before.
Both insurance companies and law enforcement authorities have a great interest in investigating arson cases. Above and beyond the potential to cause tragic loss of property and life; unlawful fire-related insurance claims can also boost the cost of insurance for all policyholders. Therefore, most insurance companies have a special arson fraud division that is dedicated to investigating all arson claims.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the crime of burning insured property with the intent to defraud is a concurrent felony crime that is codified in M.G.L. c 266 § 10 and can be tried in either the district or superior court.
The following three elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense:
1. That the defendant did set fire or attempt to set fire to property belonging to himself or someone else;
2. That at the time of the alleged incident, the property was insured against loss or damage against loss or damage by fire;
3. That the defendant acted with the specific intent to injure or fraud the insurer.
Insurance fraud crimes have had a high spike over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, more and more of these types of crimes have been reported, which leads to new methods of finding people who have in fact committed these crimes. State and local governments have recognized burning insured property crime as a top priority and have put in greater effort to prevent and punish offenders.
However, there are many innocent reasons that can lead to a fire and do not warrant an insurance fraud investigation or burning insured property charge. Since arson cases cause such great damage, which, in turn, results in heavy costs for all parties involved, insurance companies have a need to find a culprit if the arson was reported or is believed to have a suspicious source to protect their financial bottom lines.
Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Crimes Defense Attorney
Insurance fraud and arson are serious crimes that demand serious legal representation. Burning of insured property is prosecuted aggressively and anyone convicted of doing so faces harsh legal penalties including jail time, probation, restitution, fines, fees and all other collateral consequences resulting from a conviction. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has been practicing criminal defense in Massachusetts for 19 years and has the experience and legal skills necessary to vigorously defend your Massachusetts burning insured property criminal case. It is of the utmost importance to confidentially discuss your criminal matter right away with an experienced attorney and not to confide in and give statements to police detectives and fire investigators who are specifically trained to detect crime to ensure preparation for the strongest case possible for prosecution. Contact Attorney Murphy today at 617-367-0450 or through the contacts tab on our website to discuss your case confidentially and free of charge.