Burning Personal Property

Burning of Personal Property in Massachusetts

The burning of personal property, for example, motor vehicle is a property crime. The crime of arson is the leading cause of fires that occur each year in the United States, as reported by the United States Fire Administration. Arson fires have the ability to cause great damage, injury and possibly even death. Arsonists often target property that has a high value or worth, for example, a car.

The crime of burning personal property is a concurrent felony crime that is codified in M.G.L. c 266 § 5 and can be tried in either the district or superior court. In order to convict a defendant of the crime of burning of personal property in the Commonwealth, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following four essential elements:

1.    That the property in question had a value exceeding twenty-five ($25.00) dollars;
2.    The accused must have set fire to or burned the property, or caused the property to be burned, or aided, counseled another, or procured the property to be burned;
3.    The accused must have burned the property willfully, meaning intentionally and not merely by accident.
4.    The accused must also have burned the property maliciously meaning that the burning was done with an unlawful motive and without lawful excuse.

In this definition, “willful” means doing something intentionally and by design. Adding this word to the requirements to the law, it eliminates accidental or negligent burnings. However, this doesn’t excuse a person who accidentally or negligently ignites a fire, but then doesn’t make any attempts to either extinguish it or report it.

The word “malice,” also should be clarified, because it does not require any particular ill will against another person. A burning is in fact malicious if it is done with a wrong and unlawful motive or purpose.

A fire can ignite for many reasons, not all are criminal. However, interested parties will have a reason for investigating the true source of why and how a fire started. If proper investigation does lead to a source of arson, criminal charges will be filed and can lead to very serious consequences. If you face such a criminal charge you must act decisively and contact a qualified Massachusetts property crime lawyer right away.

Massachusetts Burning Personal Property Criminal Defense Attorney

Massachusetts arson charges are very serious and they demand serious legal representation.  Burning of personal 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 that result 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.

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