Canadian Criminal Sentencing/Offences/Arson

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Arson
s. 433 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Indictable
Jurisdiction Prov. Court
SC Judge + PI (I)
SC Jury + PI (I) (536(2))
Indictable Dispositions
Maximum 5 years jail (negl.) 14 years jails (prop.) Life in jail (disreg.)
References
Offence Elements
Sentence Principles
Sentence Digests


Arson[edit]

Legislation[edit]

Arson (disregard for human life)[edit]

Arson — disregard for human life
433. Every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage by fire or explosion to property, whether or not that person owns the property, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life where

(a) the person knows that or is reckless with respect to whether the property is inhabited or occupied; or
(b) the fire or explosion causes bodily harm to another person.



CCC

Arson (damage to property)[edit]

Arson — damage to property
434. Every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage by fire or explosion to property that is not wholly owned by that person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.


CCC

Arson (negligence)[edit]

Arson by negligence
436. (1) Every person who owns, in whole or in part, or controls property is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years where, as a result of a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would use to prevent or control the spread of fires or to prevent explosions, that person is a cause of a fire or explosion in that property that causes bodily harm to another person or damage to property.
Non-compliance with prevention laws
(2) Where a person is charged with an offence under subsection (1), the fact that the person has failed to comply with any law respecting the prevention or control of fires or explosions in the property is a fact from which a marked departure from the standard of care referred to in that subsection may be inferred by the court.


CCC

Application[edit]

Principles[edit]

There are four categories of arson offences: [1]

  1. Mental illness (e.g. pyromania)
  2. Insurance fraud
  3. Revenge
  4. Vandalism / random mischief

In British Columbia, the range of sentence for arsons is between 9 months and 3 years.[2]

Those with motivation of revenge or financial gain are the most morally blameworthy.[3]

Not every instance of arson under s. 434 constitutes a SPIO. It must be determined on the facts. [4]

It is not "uncommon" to order lengthy periods of probation as part of the sentencing where there are concerns of rehabilitation and protection of the public. [5]

Most cases of arson are circumstantial and so the "the circumstances must be sufficient to exclude every reasonable hypothesis other than a wilful and intentional burning in order to rebut the presumption that the burning was of accidental or natural origin."[6]

It is not always necessary to establish an incendiary source of the fire. Circumstantial evidence such as motive, opportunity, financial difficulty, possibility of gain, inculpatory utterances and other inculpatory circumstances, may be used to make the case.[7]

  1. See Ruby, Sentencing (5th Ed) at 744 to 780
  2. R v MacKendrick [2007] B.C.J. No. 306, 2007 BCPC 35 at 43
    R. v. Keber, [2005] B.C.J. No. 2475(BCCA)
    R. v. Shore (1999), W.C.B. (2d) 99(BCCA)
    R. v. Allard, [1999] B.C.J. No. 1912 (BCCA)
  3. R. v. Fournier [2002] 173 CCC (3d) 566 at 25 (NBCA)
    R. v. Fewer [2004] N.J. No. 433 at para 37
  4. R. v. C.P.M., 2009 ABPC 58 at 30
  5. R. v. Keber, 2005 BCCA 543 (CanLII) at para. 7
  6. R. v. Monteleone 1987 CanLII 16 (SCC), [1987] 2 S.C.R.154
    See also R v Jonkman, 2012 SKQB 511 (CanLII)
  7. R. v. Monteleone 1987 CanLII 16 (SCC), [1987] 2 S.C.R.154
    R v Jonkman, at paras. 90-94

Factors[edit]

Aggravating Factors

  • amount of damage caused by fire
  • harm to fire fighters
  • signs of pyromania
  • fraud or greed motive


Possession of Incendiary Materials[edit]

Possession of incendiary material
436.1 Every person who possesses any incendiary material, incendiary device or explosive substance for the purpose of committing an offence under any of sections 433 to 436 is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.


CCC