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In the Australian Capital Territory, it is an offence under the Criminal Code 2002 to use fire or an explosive to destroy or damage a building or vehicle which is owned by someone else. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 15 years.

Depending on the circumstances, destroy or damage property can be classed as a Family Violence offence.

The Offence Of Arson

The offence of arson is contained in Section 404 of the Code, which states that person commits an offence if they:

  • cause damage to a building or vehicle by fire or explosive; and
  • intend to cause, or are reckless about causing, damage to that or any other building or vehicle.

The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 15 years.

The offence of arson with intent to endanger the life of another is contained in Section 117(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 and carries a penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

What Actions Might Constitute Arson?

Examples of arson offences include:

  • setting fire to a house, shop, or public property;
  • setting fire to a car, boat, or motorbike;
  • igniting a bomb or explosive device inside a house or vehicle.

What The Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of the offence there are four elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. These are:

  • that the accused used fire or explosive;
  • it was used dishonestly, recklessly, or intentionally to destroy or damage a building or vehicle;
  • that the building or vehicle was owned, partially or wholly, by another person; and
  • the accused did not have consent from the owner of the property to destroy or damage the building or vehicle.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

If you have been charged with this offence it will be heard by the ACT Supreme Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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