In Illinois, a person may be charged with arson if they destroy property worth $150 or more with fire. An individual may be charged with arson even if he or she owned a portion of the property that was damaged and the other owner or owners didn't consent to the destruction by fire.
A fire may be investigated as an act of arson is someone is hurt in the blaze, especially if the injured person is a police officer of firefighter. Fires may also be investigated for arson if they occur on school property or in a place of worship. Arson may be investigated if the damage is significant from a financial perspective or the source of the fire is hard to determine.
Depending on the type of arson a person is charged with, he or she could spend 3 to 30 years in prison. Residential and aggravated arson carry the most serious sentences. Residential arson occurs when a person knowingly destroys part or all of a home with fire or explosives. Aggravated arson occurs when a person knowingly sets fire to a property that has people in it or in the event that a victim is severely injured.
A conviction for arson or similar crimes may carry significant penalties. In some cases, an individual may spend many years in prison. It may be best to talk to an attorney about ways to defend against the charge. For instance, it may be possible to argue that a defendant had permission to burn a piece of property or that it was worth less than $150, which means that a person's actions were unlikely to be arson.