Fourth-Degree Arson

Criminal Defense Lawyer John L. Calcagni, III

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Under Rhode Island Criminal law, Fourth-Degree Arson may be found under Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-4-5. This offense penalizes the conduct of knowingly and intentionally causing, procuring, aiding, counseling or creating damage to or destruction of any personal property of another valued in excess of $100 by means of fire or explosion.

Legal Elements of Fourth-Degree Arson

In order to be convicted of Fourth-Degree Arson, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:

  1. that the defendant caused, procured, aided, counseled or created the  damage or destruction of any personal property
  2. that the defendant did so by means of fire or explosion
  3. the defendant did so knowingly and intentionally
  4. the value of the property was in excess to $100
  5. the property belonged to someone else

What is Personal Property

The law recognizes two types of property: real property and personal property.  Real property is generally considered real estate such as land and any structures built on the land.   Personal property is any form of property that is tangible, movable and not otherwise real property. 

Examples include automobiles, boats, clothing, personal possessions, etc.  Under this law, there are other types of property such as a “pile or parcel of wood, boards, timber or other lumber, fence, bars or gate, stack of grain, hay or other vegetable product, or any vegetable product severed from the soil and not stacked, any standing tree, grain, grass or other standing product of the soil, or the soil itself.” 

One may be guilty of Fourth-Degree Arson by burning personal property of another or that which belongs to the defendant.

How to Determine Value

Rhode Island criminal law imposes a threshold value of $100.00 in order to arise to the crime of Fourth-Degree Arson.  The value of a destroyed or damaged item of personal property is a question of fact.  The court may arrive at the value of property in various ways. 

One way to determine the value of property is to look at the original cost of acquisition.  

A second way to determine value is to determine the replacement cost of the damaged or destroyed property.  

A third way to assess value is to determine the fair market value of an item.  The method of determining value can directly impact the calculation.   Attorneys should be familiar with these various calculation methods to determine property value when handling any form of arson case.

Potential Punishment if Convicted of Fourth-Degree Arson in Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island law, a conviction for Fourth-Degree Arson is a felony.  Convicted defendants shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than one (1) year nor more than three (3) years.  This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-4-5.

If you have been charged with Fourth-Degree Arson and need representation, contact the Rhode Island Arson Attorneys of the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.