Aug 9

After pleading guilty to residential arson, an Urbana, Illinois, teenager received a 15-year prison sentence, according to an article by The News-Gazette. This latest guilty plea resolved a complex criminal case against the teenager, which also included aggravated battery charges. 

The incident in question dates back to June 8th. That is when the Urbana teenager helped start a garbage fire at a large residential building in Campustown. The fire spread to the building’s electrical infrastructure, causing serious damage to the property.

The building managers had to shut down parts of the building to repair the damage, which temporarily displaced several residents. The total cost of repairs was in the tens of thousands. Though an insurance policy provided the necessary funds to complete all of the repairs.

As the Urbana teenager pleaded guilty, an Illinois state court judge dismissed charges for aggravated arson and sentenced the him to 15 years in prison. As he is still a minor, the teenager will spend the first part of his sentence in a Department of Juvenile Justice facility. 

While this Urbana teenager serves out his prison sentence, it seems like an appropriate time to review the statutory laws against and penalties for arson in Illinois. 

Illinois Laws Against Arson

720 ILCS 5/20-1 governs the Illinois laws against arson. Under this section, it is unlawful to use fire or explosives to intentionally:

  • Damage at least $150 worth of another person’s property without consent; or
  • Attempt to commit insurance fraud by damaging at least $150 of real or personal property. 

Additionally, Section 5/20-1 makes it unlawful to use fire or explosives to damage another person’s residence or dwelling. This is referred to as residential arson.

Finally, Section 5/20-1 makes it unlawful to use fire or explosives to damage a place of worship or similar religious structure. This is referred to as place of worship arson.

Illinois Penalties for Arson

Section 5/20-1 also establishes the Illinois penalties for arson. Typically, arson is a Class 2 felony. If convicted, the perpetrator can expect to spend three to seven years in prison and pay up to $25,000 in criminal fines. After the incarceration period concludes, the perpetrator can spend up to four years on probation. 

On the other hand, residential and place of worship arson are punishable as a Class 1 felony. Upon conviction, the perpetrator can expect to spend four to 15 years in prison and pay up to $25,000 in criminal fines. There is also the possibility of a four-year probationary period. 

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 or by completing an online form.

(image courtesy of Yaoqi Lai)