Here’s What Minnesota Arson Charges Could Mean for You

In Minnesota, arson crimes are charged as misdemeanors or felony offenses, depending on the nature of the crime and the severity of damages.

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Charged with Arson in Minnesota

The charges and penalties for arson crimes in Minnesota vary depending on the severity of the crime, the level of injuries, and the amount of property damages that result from the fire. An arson crime can be charged as a misdemeanor offense that carries fines and short jail terms or as a felony offense with steep fines and up to 20 years behind bars.

Arson is a serious offense due to the potential for severe personal injuries or death to fire victims and massive destruction of property. Minnesota laws put arson crimes into several categories:

Arson of a Dwelling

Dwelling fires are the most serious type of arson offense. They are usually charged as First Degree Felonies because they often involve injuries or loss of life to dwelling inhabitants. Any person who intentionally sets a fire or uses explosives that cause damage to a dwelling, whether inhabitants are present at the time or not, face fines up to $35,000 and prison sentences up to 20 years, or both.

Arson of Other Buildings

Building fires are charged as First Degree Felonies due to their potential for personal injuries, loss of life, and extensive property damages. Intentionally setting a fire or using explosives that cause damage to a building can result in fines up to $35,000 and prison sentences up to 20 years, or both.

Wildfire Arson

Dwelling and building fires cause destruction and devastation, but they are reasonably easy to contain and extinguish. Wildfires are not. When a fire is intentionally set in a forest or open land area, it can burn thousands of acres for days, even weeks, before it is extinguished. Because of the potential for massive damage, wildfire arson is automatically charged as a felony offense in Minnesota, with fines up to $10,000 and prison sentences up to 5 years, or both. More serious penalties may be imposed if:

  • The fire burns 1,500 acres or more
  • The fire causes damage to 100 dwelling or buildings
  • The fire causes damage to crops in excess of $250,000

If a person is stopped or found with items such as matches, torches, flame throwers, or flammable liquids that could start a wildfire, he/she may be arrested and charged with a gross misdemeanor.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

One of the questions people facing a criminal charge ask is: How long does a criminal case take? The timeline of your criminal case in Minnesota will depend on the nature and severity of the alleged crime, the speed of the criminal justice system, the duration of the trial, and whether an appeal will be necessary. Delays at any stage of the criminal justice process may impact how long your criminal case will last. Generally, however, misdemeanor cases may resolve within weeks or months, while felony cases may linger in courts for up to a year.
People accused, arrested, or charged with a crime often ask, “How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Minneapolis, MN?” It is difficult to accurately determine how much a criminal defense lawyer will cost. The reason is that numerous factors impact the cost of legal representation in criminal matters. These factors include the type and severity of criminal charges, the lawyer’s experience and reputation, required time and effort, and geographical location.
Social media can have legal implications, particularly when it comes to criminal cases. Since its advent, social media has become a powerful tool for communication and self-expression. As of 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people worldwide use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to share thoughts, experiences, and moments from their lives. However, in this digital age, social media activity can be used as evidence in criminal cases in Minneapolis and elsewhere.