If you have been charged with Arson, here is some information to know and consider in seeking legal advice with Emma Turnbull Lawyers.
There are several different types of offending that fall under the umbrella of arson offences – essentially the relevant offence must be committed by destroying or damaging property by fire.
Elements of the offence
For the prosecution to prove the offence of Arson, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the offence which are set out in s197 Crimes Act 1958 and are as follows:
- The accused committed one of the offences of Criminal Damage (refer to the offences of Criminal Damage for an explanation of those offences); and
- The damage or destruction occurred by fire; and
- The accused intended to damage or destroy the property by fire.
Will I have to go to court?
Charges for Arson can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates’ Court. However, depending on the circumstances of the offence and any other charges laid, the case may be heard in a higher court. Expert legal advice is important in ensuring the most appropriate defence to a charge of Arson.
Once the case goes to court, it is up to the prosecution to prove all the elements of the offence. It is important that you seek expert legal advice to prepare a defence and to represent you in court as this offence carries a significant maximum sentence of imprisonment.
The maximum penalty this offence carries is 2 years imprisonment if it is dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court, but if dealt with in the County or Supreme Court the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.
What sentences are usually given?
Between 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021, 131 people were sentenced for arson in the higher courts, with 86% (113 people) sentence to imprisonment, with a median sentence of 2 years, but the sentences imposed ranged up to 15 years.
Between 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2021 the Magistrates Court dealt with 271 cases and imprisonment was imposed in 51% of cases (136 people), and a community corrections order in 21% of cases (57 people).
What do I do now?
To ensure the best chance of a successful defence, it is important to get in contact with an expert criminal lawyer as soon as possible. At Emma Turnbull Lawyers, we have experienced criminal defence lawyers who can assist you in defending this charge.
Contact our office today to speak to an accredited criminal law specialist, on (03) 9077 4834 or at firstname.lastname@example.org