Nov 29

From a general standpoint, arson is an Illinois crime that involves the use of fire or explosives to harm or injure. More specifically, Illinois law provides for several different types of arson crimes. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, the corresponding punishment can change drastically, as well. 

Arson

720 ILCS 5/20-1 establishes the Illinois definition of arson. Under this section, a person uses fire or explosives to knowingly:

  • Damage real or personal property worth more than $150 without the owner’s consent; or
  • Attempt or commit insurance fraud by damaging property worth more than $150. 

To qualify as arson, the perpetrator must act with knowledge. Stated otherwise, the perpetrator’s actions must be intentional. Mere errors or mistakes do not necessarily qualify as arson under Illinois law. 

Section 20-1 categorizes arson as a Class 2 felony. If convicted for this crime, the offender can expect to spend three to seven years in prison, pay up to $25,000 in criminal fines, and endure 48 months of probation. 

Residential Arson

The Illinois definition of residential arson also appears under Section 20-1. Residential arson occurs when the perpetrator knowingly damages another person’s home or dwelling place. Residential arson can involve partial or total damage to the buildings or structures in question.

Section 20-1 categorizes residential arson as a Class 1 felony. If convicted for this crime, the offender can expect to spend four to 15 years in prison, pay up to $25,000 in criminal fines, and endure 48 months of probation. 

Place of Worship Arson

The Illinois definition of place of worship arson also appears under Section 20-1. Place of worship arson occurs when the perpetrator knowingly damages a church, temple, or similar place of worship. Place of worship arson can involve partial or total damage to the buildings or structures in question. 

Section 20-1 categorizes place of worship arson as a Class 1 felony. Consequently, the punishment for place of worship arson is the same as for residential arson, which is described in the previous section. 

Aggravated Arson

720 ILCS 5/20-1.1 details the Illinois definition of aggravated arson. The aggravated version of this crime applies when a person commits arson and:

  • The perpetrator knows or should know that there are other people in the building or structure;
  • Any person sustains great bodily harm, disability, or disfigurement from the fire or explosives; or
  • A police officer, firefighter, or correctional officer sustains harm or injury from the fire or explosives. 

Section 20-1.1 categorizes aggravated arson as a Class X felony. If convicted for this crime, the offender can expect to spend six to 30 years in prison and pay up to $25,000 in criminal fines. Probation is not available for Class X felonies in Illinois.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.