Have You Been Charged With Arson In Kentucky?

At Mashni Law Criminal Defense, we understand the complexities surrounding allegations of arson.  It’s a charge that can ignite not only buildings, but also one’s career, reputation, and most importantly, their freedom.  Whether you are dealing with misinterpretation of events, a mistaken identity, or you find yourself wrongfully accused, our dedicated team is poised to dissect every detail and work tirelessly to fight the government every step of the way.  If you’re facing arson charges, don’t wait as the embers burn - take swift action.  Call our office now or schedule a free case evaluation to fan the flames of justice in your favor.

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Arson is starting a fire or causing an explosion in a building. 



There are three degrees of Arson in Kentucky. 

Arson in the 1st Degree is a Class A felony and the most serious of the arson crimes. 

Arson in the 2nd Degree is a Class B felony. The sentencing range for a Class B felony is 

between 10 to 20 years. 

Arson in the 3rd Degree is a Class D felony. The sentencing range for a Class D felony is 

between five to ten years. 



Like all crimes, arson requires three elements to be proven: the act, the intent, and causation. All degrees of arson entail starting a fire or causing an explosion. The difference in the degrees comes in for the differing levels of intent and the types of buildings that were damaged or destroyed. 

  • In 1st Degree Arson, the person intends to destroy or damage the building. The building that is damaged or destroyed must have been inhabited or occupied. It is also sufficient that the person setting the fire or creating the explosion believed or had reason to believe the building was inhabited or occupied or that any other person was seriously injured as a result. 
  • In 2nd Degree Arson, the person intends to destroy or damage a building, just like in 1st degree arson. However, it is sufficient that the building belongs to another person or to the person committing the act, if the reason is to collect insurance proceeds.
  • In 3rd Degree Arson, the person intends to start a fire or cause an explosion, “wantonly” causing destruction or damage to his own or another person’s building or structure.  




  • The sentencing range for Arson in the first degree is between 20 to 50 years or life in prison. 
  • The sentencing range for Arson in the second degree is between 10 to 20 years. 
  • The sentencing range for Arson in the third degree is between one to five years. 




  • Bond is determined by the court, based on a variety of factors.  Several factors are considered by the judge when determining the amount for a criminal bond. The severity of the alleged crime plays a significant role; graver offenses typically result in higher bond amounts. The defendant’s previous criminal record, if existing, is also examined. If the defendant has a history of failing to appear in court or has any outstanding warrants, these could increase the bond amount. The judge also considers the defendant’s ties to the community, their employment status, and their financial ability to post bail. In essence, any factor that could influence the probability of the defendant’s return to court is taken into account.




Caselaw can provide a window into how different terms of a statute that defines a crime will be interpreted by the court and defined to a jury, in the event that the matter goes to trial. For example, caselaw clarifies that it is not required that a person actually be living in a structure that is burned or destroyed; it is only required that the person charged with arson believed that there was a person alive inside. Johnson v. Com., 2007 WL 2742735 (Ky. 2007). 

Lesser included offenses of arson include arson in the second and third degrees, which are less serious versions of arson. So, arson also occurs when a building is burned down in order to defraud an insurance company. Jillson v. Com., 461 S.W.2d 542 (Ky. 1970). Even if the building or structure simply belongs to another person and is not a dwelling nor is there a person inside, the action, when combined with the other elements, constitutes a lesser included offense of arson. Sublett v. Com., (Ky. 1896).




Aside from defending against an arson charge by asserting that a person’s behavior does not meet the definition of arson as provided by the law, there are a few defenses to second- and third-degree arson. 

There are two enumerated defenses to arson. First, it is a defense to second degree arson that the building was solely owned by the defendant or if the building was owned by others, that those others consented to the defendant’s conduct. This defense also is a defense to third degree arson. It is also a defense to second degree arson that the defendant’s actions were intended to carry out a lawful purpose. 


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