Arson Charges and Potential Sentencing

Presumptive Charge Presumptive Sentencing
Fourth Degree Arson
Endangered Person
Class 4 felony 2-6 years
Fourth Degree Arson
Endangered Property (>$100)
Class 2 misdemeanor Up to 12 months
Fourth Degree Arson
Endangered Property (<$100)
Class 3 misdemeanor Up to 3 months
Third Degree Arson
Damage With Intent to Defraud
Class 4 felony 2-6 years
Second Degree Arson
Unoccupied Structure
Class 3 felony 4-12 years
Second Degree Arson
Occupied Structure
Class 3 felony 4-12 years


The severity of the charge and the resulting sentencing are determined by how the fire was started and what it affected.

Aggravating Factors That May Elevate Charges/Sentencing

Depending on the circumstances, arson charges may be escalated to include aggravated charges or may be coupled with other charges. For instance, using explosives on an occupied building may result in 32 years in prison, and any deaths that are a direct result of the blast may incur their own homicide charge. If the intent of the fire is to harm another person, whether they were or not, this may upgrade the charges to aggravated. 

Reckless Arson

You may end up facing reckless arson charges if you started a fire that escalated out of control or began a wildfire. In these cases, it is determined that there was a lack of intent to destroy or harm, but that the fire caused significant damage and charges are amplified as such.

Potential Arson Defenses

For you to be charged with and found guilty of arson or aggravated arson, law enforcement officers (LEO) are required to prove that you intentionally started a fire with the intent to do damage or cause harm. To be charged with reckless arson, LEO are required to prove that you started a fire and it resulted in damage or harm. However, as most people know, fires can begin in a variety of ways and spread easily. Some defenses to arson charges that have successfully been used to avoid felony conviction or prison time include:

  • The fire was unintentional,
  • The fire was not caused by arson (unintentional or without intent),
  • The fire was spontaneous or as a result of mechanical failure, 
  • Someone else started the fire,
  • There as no gain (insurance claim),
  • No one was injured and no damage occurred,
  • You didn’t have the intent required for the crime you are charged with,
  • The fire was an agricultural controlled burn and no one was injured,
  • There was police misconduct during your arrest or the investigation.

When you contact the legal team at the Law Offices of Murphy and Price, we will proactively begin building your defense as the investigation takes place. Don’t hesitate to get the best criminal defense team in Colorado Springs on your side — call now. 

Enlist The Services of Your Top Rated Local® Criminal Defense Attorney

Arson charges are generally filed as felonies and can have severe and lasting consequences on your life. Don’t let your future become a pile of ashes — enlist the help of the talented criminal defense team at the Law Offices of Murphy and Price, LLP.  Our experienced Colorado Springs-based legal team can help you decide which options you have and aggressively defend your arson case. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.