Massachusetts Arson Laws

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266

Arson Defense Attorneys • Plymouth, Bristol and Norfolk County, MA

Section 1. Dwelling houses; burning or aiding in burning

Whoever wilfully and maliciously sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned, or whoever aids, counsels or procures the burning of, a dwelling house, or a building adjoining or adjacent to a dwelling house, or a building by the burning whereof a dwelling house is burned, whether such dwelling house or other building is the property of himself or another and whether the same is occupied or unoccupied, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The words “dwelling house”, as used in this section, shall mean and include all buildings used as dwellings such as apartment houses, tenement houses, hotels, boarding houses, dormitories, hospitals, institutions, sanatoria, or other buildings where persons are domiciled.

Section 2. Meeting house; burning or aiding in burning

Whoever wilfully and maliciously sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned, or whoever aids, counsels or procures the burning of, a meeting house, church, court house, town house, college, academy, jail or other building which has been erected for public use, or a banking house, warehouse, store, manufactory, mill, barn, stable, shop, outhouse or other building, or an office building, lumber yard, ship, vessel, street car or railway car, or a bridge, lock, dam, flume, tank, or any building or structure or contents thereof, not included or described in the preceding section, whether the same is the property of himself or of another and whether occupied, unoccupied or vacant, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years.

Section 3 and Section 4 have been repealed.

Section 5. Wood and other property; burning or aiding in burning

Section 5. Whoever wilfully and maliciously sets fire to, or burns or otherwise destroys or injures by burning, or causes to be burned or otherwise so destroyed or injured, or whoever aids, counsels or procures the burning of, a pile or parcel of wood, boards, timber or other lumber, or any fence, bars or gate, or a stack of grain, hay or other vegetable product, or any vegetable product severed from the soil and not stacked, or any standing tree, grain, grass or other standing product of the soil, or the soil itself, or any personal property of whatsoever class or character exceeding a value of twenty-five dollars, of another, or any boat, motor vehicle as defined in section one of chapter ninety, or other conveyance, whether of himself or another, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years, or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars and imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than one year.

Section 5A. Attempts

Section 5A. Whoever wilfully and maliciously attempts to set fire to, or attempts to burn, or aids, counsels or assists in such an attempt to set fire to or burn, any of the buildings, structures or property mentioned in the foregoing sections, or whoever commits any act preliminary thereto or in furtherance thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

The placing or distributing of any flammable, explosive or combustible material or substance or any device in or against any building, structure or property mentioned in the foregoing sections in an arrangement or preparation with intent eventually to wilfully and maliciously set fire to or burn such building, structure or property, or to procure the setting fire to or burning of the same shall, for the purposes of this section, constitute an attempt to burn such building, structure or property.

Section 6 has been repealed.

Section 7. Woods; wanton or reckless injury or destruction by fire

Whoever by wantonly or recklessly setting fire to any material, or by increasing a fire already set, causes injury to, or the destruction of, any growing or standing wood of another shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two years.

Section 8. Injury by fire; negligent use

Whoever, not being a tenant thereof, sets or increases a fire upon land of another whereby the property of another is injured, or whoever negligently or wilfully suffers any fire upon his own land to extend beyond the limits thereof whereby the woods or property of another are injured, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two years, and the town where such fire occurred may recover in an action of tort, brought within two years after the cause of action accrues, against any such person the expense of extinguishing such fire.

Section 9. Injury by fire; negligent use in town; damages

Whoever, in a town which accepts this section or has accepted corresponding provisions of earlier laws, sets a fire on land which is not owned or controlled by him and before leaving the same neglects to entirely extinguish such fire, or whoever wilfully or negligently sets a fire on land which is not owned or controlled by him whereby property is endangered or injured, or whoever wilfully or negligently suffers a fire upon his own land to escape beyond the limits thereof to the injury of another, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment in jail for not more than one month, or both, and shall also be liable for all damages caused thereby. Such fine shall be equally divided between the complainant and the town. This section shall not apply to cities.

Section 10. Insured property; burning with intent to defraud

Whoever, wilfully and with intent to defraud or injure the insurer, sets fire to, or attempts to set fire to, or whoever causes to be burned, or whoever aids, counsels or procures the burning of, a building, or any goods, wares, merchandise or other chattels, belonging to himself or another, and which are at the time insured against loss or damage by fire, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years.

Free Consultation • Plymouth County MA Arson Defense Attorneys

If you have been arrested for, or charged with a crime of arson we can help.  Our law firm is experienced in representing defendants against many types of serious crimes, like arson.

If convicted or an arson crime, you could be facing stiff penalties.  For competent legal advice, call us today at (508) 584-6955 for a free consultation. We take cases involving arson throughout Southeast Massachusetts including Plymouth County, Bristol County, and Norfolk County.  If you prefer to use the Internet to contact us, use our Free Case Evaluation Form.

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