Arson by Negligence

Arson by Negligence

The offence of arson by negligence is outlined in section 436(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of arson by negligence when they do not take reasonable care to prevent a fire or explosion on property that they own or control, and this fire or explosion harms another person or damages property.

Examples

Person A leaves their two young children in a room alone with several lit candles, and these children knock over the candles, setting the room on fire.

Person B leaves their gas stove on while they go to the grocery store, and a fire starts that burns the entire house down and causes damage to the neighbours home.

Person C mixes explosive chemicals in the bathroom of their apartment unit without the proper safety or laboratory equipment and causes an explosion that severely damages the walls and furnishings in the bathroom.

Cases

R. v. Cassidy, 2011 ONCJ 249

In R. v. Cassidy, the accused was convicted of one count of arson by negligence when the appliances he had set up in his apartment unit to support a large cannabis grow operation malfunctioned, causing a fire that damaged his and several other units.

R. v. Cary, 2016 ONCJ 764

In R. v. Cary, the accused was convicted of one count of arson by negligence when he caused an explosion in his shed while attempting to extract hash oil from cannabis shake using a blow torch and a frying pan, destroying the shed and severely injuring himself.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Reasonable Care

Where the person has taken reasonable care to prevent a fire or explosion, but a fire or explosion happens anyways, the person may not have completed the offence of arson by negligence, even where this fire or explosion harms another person or damages property.

No Ownership or Control

Where the person does not have ownership or control over the property where the fire or explosion occurred, they may not have completed the offence of arson by negligence.

No Harm or Damage

Where no person is harmed or property damaged by the fire or explosion that results from the person’s lack of reasonable care, the person may not have completed the offence of arson by negligence.

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