Arson with Disregard for Human Life

Arson with Disregard for Human Life

The offence of arson – disregard for human life is outlined in section 433 of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of arson – disregard for human life when they intentionally or recklessly damage property by fire or explosion and know or are reckless to the fact that someone is inside that property or lives there.

A person also commits the offence of arson – disregard for human life where they intentionally or recklessly damage property by fire or explosion and this fire or explosion physically harms another person.

Examples

Person A purposefully sets their house on fire but does not first confirm whether person B and person C are still inside the house.

Person D plants a bomb in person E’s restaurant to help person E with an insurance scam, but the resulting explosion kills person E and several others.

Cases

R. v. Savary, 2014 ONCJ 424

In R. v. Savary, the accused was convicted of one count of arson – disregard for human life when, while producing cannabis oil in his condo using heated isopropyl alcohol, he caused an explosion that severely burned him and caused $16,000 in damages to his condo unit.

R. v. Johnston, 2014 ONSC 4186

In R. v. Johnston, the accused was charged with one count of arson – disregard for human life for intentionally lighting a pile of books, clothing, and magazines on fire in his apartment in a suicide attempt, causing $8,500 in damages to the apartment.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Accident

Where the person accidentally damages property by fire or explosion without being reckless as to whether this accident could occur, they may not have completed the offence of arson – disregard for human life.

For example, where person A forgets to blow out two small candles before they leave their house for the night and the candles fall over, causing the entire house to burn down, they have not completed the offence of arson – disregard for human life.

No Fire or Explosion

Where the person damages property without the use of fire or an explosion, they have not completed the offence of arson – disregard for human life.

For example, where person A punches through a wall to destroy it and does not use any fire or explosions in destroying it, they have not completed the offence of arson.

Empty and No Harm

Where the person damaging the property by fire or explosion knows the property is empty and uninhabited and no one is harmed by the fire or explosion, they may not have completed the offence of arson – disregard for human life. They may however, have committed another arson offence.

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