While playing with fire may not seem like a big deal to some people, it can sometimes lead to criminal charges for serious felony crimes. While arson does not appear to be a typical violent crime, such as assault or robbery, it can result in damage to property and harm or even death to a person. An arson conviction may bring with it serious penalties and consequences, including jail time and large fines and penalties. As a recent story from Illinois suggests, even when someone is not harmed during an arson, the suspected arsonist may face serious charges.
According to cbslocal.com, earlier this year in July, a young man entered a park area and decided to play with fire. 19-year-old Kyle McCreedy of Downers Grove in Wheaton, Illinois, went to McCollum Park right before Independence Day and set fire to the concession area and washroom. Last month, authorities charged Mr. McCreedy with felony arson for the park fire after he turned himself in. Downers Grove police had already identified Mr. McCreedy as the person who had set the blaze, before he turned himself in. Mr. McCreedy is now out of jail after posting ten percent of his $50,000 bond. He is due back in court next week. Mr. McCreedy reportedly caused over $20,000 in damage to the park property.
While Mr. McCreedy, and the rest of Wheaton, can be thankful that no one was injured in the blaze, he will now face serious felony charges for the fire. Under Illinois criminal law 720 ILCS 5/20-1, arson of a nonresidential property that is also not a place of worship is a Class 2 felony. A person commits arson when he or she knowingly uses fire or explosives to damage real or personal property of over $150 or damages any property over $150 in value with the intent to defraud an insurer. A person commits residential arson when he or she knowingly damages, either partially or fully, the place where another person lives.
The crime of aggravated arson is essentially arson plus certain extenuating circumstances. Illinois criminal law 720 ILCS 5/20-1.1 establishes the crime of aggravated arson. A person commits aggravated arson when he or she knows or should know that a person is in a building or structure when he or she commits the arson, and the person is injured or disabled as a result of the fire or explosion. A person can also be charged with aggravated arson if he or she commits arson and a fireman, policeman, or correctional officer who is at the scene of the fire is injured during the commission of his or her duties by the fire or explosion. Aggravated arson is a Class X felony, the penalty for which can be a lengthy jail sentence, fines and other penalties.
If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact an attorney at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.