Okla. Senator Proposes Stiffer Penalties for Arson

December 9, 2005

Recalling recent wildfires that have been made worse by individuals deliberately setting blazes, Oklahoma State Senator Frank Shurden said he plans to file legislation to increase the penalties for arson.

“We’re going to significantly boost the fines and we’re going to require restitution for all categories of arson,” said Shurden, D-Henryetta. “We’re also going to include the destruction of hay and animals under third-degree arson.”

Under current law, the penalty for arson in the first degree, which is for the arson of an occupied dwelling, is a fine of up to $25,000. Shurden wants to raise the maximum fine to $50,000.

The maximum fine for arson in the second degree, which is the burning of an unoccupied building, would increase from $20,000 to $35,000.

The maximum fine for arson in the third degree, which includes destruction of property such as vehicles, crops, or land, would increase from $10,000 to $25,000 and would also include the destruction of hay and animals.

Arson in the fourth degree is any attempt to destroy property, whether successful or not. The fine for that crime would increase from $5,000 to $10,000.

The maximum prison time would remain the same for all arson crimes as in current statutes.

Shurden said he would also include language to allow the seizure and forfeiture of any vehicles or other items used in the commission of the crime. The bill would mandate full restitution for all damages.

“I think it is important to point out that arson in the first degree is already punishable as murder in the first degree. If anyone is injured as a result of the arson, such as firefighters or other emergency responders, there’s also a mandatory minimum of seven years in prison,” Shurden said.

Source: Oklahoma State Senate

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