Arson Defence Lawyers in Toronto

Home/Arson Defence Lawyers in Toronto

IMG_0414BLUE

ARSON DEFENCE LAWYERS IN TORONTO

Arson refers to the act of intentionally, maliciously, or recklessly setting fire to any building, vehicle, woodland, or any other property with the intent to cause damage or for enjoyment. The Criminal Code contains several sections regarding arson related offences. According to section 434 of the Criminal Code, every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage to property that is not owned by them, in whole or in part, by setting a fire or causing an explosion, is guilty of an indictable offence. Upon conviction, the defendant will be liable to a maximum of fourteen years’ imprisonment.

Additionally, section 433 of the Criminal Code outlines the offence of arson with a disregard for human life, which is one of the most serious arson related offences. The Code states that every person that causes damage by intentionally or recklessly setting fire to, or causing an explosion is guilty of an indictable offence.

A defendant who is convicted will be liable to life imprisonment in situations where the accused knew or acted recklessly as to whether or not the property was occupied or inhabited or where the fire or explosion caused bodily harm to another person.

In 2018, after nearly 2 years of litigation, the Firm secured a withdrawal of Arson – Disregard for Human Life in its R. v. A.T. [2018], where the offender was facing up to life imprisonment after an extensive investigation between Toronto Police and the Toronto Fire Marshall. It was alleged the accused nearly burnt down an apartment building in Toronto with 75 units and caused over $100,000.00 in damage. The Firm defeated the allegation by challenging the Crown expert witness and Fire Marshall’s conclusions about the source and origin of the fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Arson if the Property was my Own?
What if the Fire was not Intentional, but was Caused by Negligence?
What If I Unsuccessfully Attempted to Commit Arson and was Caught?
How Does the Crown Prove Arson?
-Arson – Disregard for Human Life
-Damage to Property
Additional Penalties Related to an Arson Conviction

Is it Arson if the Property was my Own?

Yes. Regardless of whether or not an individual owns the property they set on fire, it is still considered arson if the fire was set intentionally or due to reckless behaviour on the part of the defendant. Section 434.1 of the Criminal Code states that every individual who recklessly or intentionally causes damage to property, owned in whole or in part by that person, by setting fire to it or by causing an explosion is guilty of an indictable offence. The maximum sentence applicable to an individual convicted under s. 434.1 is fourteen years’ imprisonment where the fire or explosion placed at risk the property, health or safety or any other person.

Arson for a Fraudulent Purpose

Arson is commonly committed on one’s own property in an attempt to fraudulently collect insurance money for the damage. Section 435(1) of the Criminal Code states that any person who intentionally or recklessly sets fire to, or causes an explosion on a property with the intent to defraud another person, whether or not the property belongs to them, in whole or in part, is guilty of an indictable offence. Upon conviction a defendant will be liable to imprisonment for a maximum of ten years. Subsection (2) stipulates that where an accused owns the property that was damaged by the fire or explosion that they caused and they were the beneficiary to a fire insurance policy on the property, the court will presume that the fire or explosion was caused for fraudulent purposes.

What if the Fire was not Intentional, but was Caused by Negligence?

A fire or explosion that results from the negligence of an individual with a duty to care for the property will be considered arson. According to section 436(1) of the Criminal Code, an individual who is in control of a property or owns a property, in part or in whole, and as a result of their marked departure from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonably prudent person in a similar situation to prevent or control the spread of a fire or explosion, or was a cause of a fire or explosion on the property that caused damage to the property or bodily harm to another person, is guilty of an indictable offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction for such an offence is five years’ imprisonment. This means that the defendant did not have to have directly started the fire or caused the explosion to be guilty of arson by negligence.

Additionally, where a person is charged with the offence of arson by negligence under section 436(1), the fact that the individual failed to comply with any law relating to the prevention or control of fires or explosions on the property is sufficient proof that the person was negligent.

What If I Unsuccessfully Attempted to Commit Arson and was Caught?

According to section 436.1 of the Criminal Code, it is an indictable offence to possess any incendiary device (fire-starting) or explosive device for the purpose of committing an arson as outlined in sections 433 and 436 of the Criminal Code. Upon conviction of such an offence a defendant will be liable for a maximum of five years’ imprisonment.

How Does the Crown Prove Arson?

As with any criminal offence, the onus is on the Crown to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused committed the offence as charged. In addition to proving the basic elements of the crime such as the time and location of the offence and identity of the perpetrator, the Crown must prove additional offense specific elements depending on the section of the Criminal Code under which the accused has been charged.

Arson – Disregard for Human Life

To prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant committed the offence of arson with disregard for human life (s. 433) the Crown must demonstrate that the defendant was the cause of the fire or explosion that caused the damage to the property, that the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally in regards to starting the fire or explosion and that the defendant was aware or acted recklessly in regards to whether or not the property was occupied or inhabited, or where the fire or explosion caused by the defendant caused bodily harm to another person.

Damage to Property

To prove beyond the reasonable doubt that a defendant committed the offence of arson causing damage to property (s. 434) the Crown must demonstrate that the defendant intentionally or recklessly caused damage to a property by causing a fire or explosion to occur and where the property was not owned, in whole or in part, by the defendant. The Crown need not prove that the defendant was aware of the specific consequences of the fire or explosion, rather they must prove that the defendant knew the “probable consequences” or starting a fire or causing an explosion. In many cases the Crown will need to utilize an expert witness to specifically tie the defendant to the cause of the fire or explosion.

Additional Penalties Related to an Arson Conviction

In addition to the various sentences that can be imposed as outlined above, there are also other penalties that may be imposed upon a defendant who has been convicted of an arson related offence.

DNA Orders

In addition to the sentence imposed by the court as outlined in the Criminal Code in sections 433, 434, 434.1, 435 and 436 a judge presiding may also order the defendant to submit a sample of their DNA. Whether or not a DNA order will be issued will be left to the discretion of the judge.

Weapons Prohibition

Those convicted of an arson related offence under sections 433, 434 or 436 of the Criminal Code will be subject to a mandatory weapons prohibition. A weapons prohibition is an order issued by the court prohibiting the individual who is the subject of the order from possessing any type of weapon. The term weapon is used broadly and includes; firearms, cross-bows, restricted weapons, prohibited devices, ammunition, prohibited ammunition and explosives. The duration of the weapons prohibition will differ depending on the accused’s past criminal history. Where the current charge is a first offence the prohibition order will last for a maximum of ten years. For second or subsequent offence(s) the duration of the prohibition order must be for life.

Delayed Parole

In situations where an accused has been convicted of an offence under sections 433, 434.1 or 436 and sentenced to a period of imprisonment of two years or more, the defendant is eligible for a delayed parole order. A delayed parole order is issued by the court and essentially delays parole for the offender. Such an order requires the defendant to serve at least one half of his sentence or ten years, whichever is less. There court may make the decision to delay parole where so required to show denunciation for the offence, based on the characteristics of the offender or the circumstances of the crime, or where specific or general deterrence requires.

416-DEFENCE | 416-333-3623

error: Content is protected !!

Recent Posts