Code of Virginia §18.2-82 states that:
“If any person while in any building or other structure unlawfully, with intent to commit a felony therein, shall burn or cause to be burned, in whole or in part, such building or other structure, the burning of which is not punishable under any other section of this chapter, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.”
“Any building or other structure”
Under this Virginian law, any dwelling being burnt down will be taken as a criminal act of arson. The offense of Arson means deliberately burning down a property or structure. Dwelling does not only mean a house, but also
- churches and synagogues,
- railroad cars,
- treatment facilities.
Although the burning of any dwelling at all times will be treated as an offense, those caught in the act of arson at night will be dealt with more severely. The reason for this severity is that the people are sleeping at night who will be at a higher risk of harm.
Va. Code §18.2-77 – Penalty of burning a dwelling house
Perhaps this is the most common of all arson charges. As per this code, it is forbidden on all Virginians to destruct or burn a dwelling home either by an explosive device or fire. Any person found of this statute’s violation will be sentenced the penalty of serving no more than 5 years of their life as jail time. Not only that, the offender will be charged with fine no more than $100,000. In case if the house was found to be uninhabited, the arson charge will be treated as Class 4 felony. The punishment for this charge will be to serve jail time of 2-10 years, pay a fine no more than $100,000, or both.
The penalty for all other charges related to arson comprises of fine no more than $100,000 and 20 years as jail time.
How to prove the act of Arson
The state of Virginia’s Commonwealth has to prove if the offender has committed the offence of arson. To do that they must prove:
- an incendiary act
- the person suspected is the one who caused the act
- criminal intent
It must be noted that this law applies only to dwelling residences. In order to convict the offender of this charge, the state of Virginia’s Commonwealth must have proof that the place destroyed or burned was a dwelling.
How to prove An Incendiary Act?
To prove that an incendiary act has been committed, there must be circumstantial evidence such as:
- any use of accelerants,
- many points showing the source of the fire,
- lack of accidental sources.
- 18.2-77 – Aid or Assist an Arson
Any individual caught procuring, counseling or aiding the destruction or burning of any manufactured home or dwelling house will be found guilty of arson. The punishment for the aider will be the same as it will be for the actual arsonist.