In North Carolina, a property crime is a serious criminal offense. Of all the property crimes that exist, though, arson is considered one of the most significant due to how dangerous it is. Not only is property damaged, but people can be injured as well. This is why it is usually considered a felony-level offense.

First-degree arson is the most severe. It involves the burning of an occupied building. This is a Class D felony that may result in a prison sentence up to 160 months. Second-degree arson is a lesser crime involving the burning of an unoccupied building. This is a Class G felony, which is punishable up to 31 months behind bars.

There is a third class of felony charges for the burning of government, religious and school buildings. This would be a Class H felony, punishable up to 25 months in prison. Of course, building occupancy is also taken into consideration in such cases and can result in more severe punishment.

There are two defense strategies that may work in arson cases. The first is claiming the fire was an accident. Accidents do happen, but one needs to convince the court or jury that the accident may have been accidental. The second is claiming mistake of fact. This basically means one did not have the intent to commit a crime. Intent is everything in criminal cases.

North Carolina residents who are facing arson charges stand to lose a lot if they are ultimately convicted. Thankfully, they have the right to defend themselves, and that is something they do not have to do alone. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help one determine the best way to approach the situation and fight for the best possible outcome.