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 Criminal Code 2002, which states: A person commits an offence if the person— (a) causes damage to a building or vehicle by fire or explosive; and (b) intends to cause, or is 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 states that if you intend to endanger the life of another person by using fire or explosive to destroy or damage property you shall be liable to imprisonment for 25 years.

What Actions Might Constitute “Arson”?

Examples of Arson offences include but are not limited to:

  • 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 as a means to;
  • Dishonestly, recklessly, or intentionally destroy or damage a building or vehicle;
  • 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 and determined by the ACT Supreme Court.

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


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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