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Arson and Malicious Mischief - Washington State

Posted Friday, December 29, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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Arson involves the knowing and malicious causing of a fire or explosion. Malicious Mischief involves the knowing and malicious causing of damage to property of another. Title 9A.48 of the Revised Code of Washington describes the crimes of Arson, Reckless Burning, and Malicious Mischief. The code section includes also the crimes of Tagging/Graffiti, Defacing a State Monument, and Civil Disorder Training.

Arson in Washington State

Under Washington State law, Arson can be charged in the first degree as a class A felony, or in the second degree, as a class B felony.

Arson in the first degree occurs when:

(1) A person is guilty of arson in the first degree if he or she knowingly and maliciously:

(a) Causes a fire or explosion which is manifestly dangerous to any human life, including firefighters; or

(b) Causes a fire or explosion which damages a dwelling; or

(c) Causes a fire or explosion in any building in which there shall be at the time a human being who is not a participant in the crime; or

(d) Causes a fire or explosion on property valued at ten thousand dollars or more with intent to collect insurance proceeds. RCW 9A.48.020.

Arson in the second degree occurs when a person “knowingly and maliciously” causes a fire or explosion which damages any property. RCW 9A.48.030. The code lists a number of specific types of property, including but not limited to: a building, structure, machine, motor vehicle, bridge, crop, or fence.

Charges for Arson are serious felony charges and if convicted can come with severe, life-altering punishment and penalties. If you’ve been charged with Arson in Washington State, you need a fierce criminal defense attorney on your side. Call our office 24/7 at 425-883-3366. We are ready to protect your rights and your freedom.

Malicious Mischief in Washington State

The most commonly charged crime under Title 9A.48 is Malicious Mischief. Charges for Malicious Mischief requires that a person ” knowingly and maliciously” cause damage to the property of another. Malicious Mischief in the first degree is a class B felony, in the second degree is a class C felony, and in the third degree is a gross misdemeanor. Whether charges are in the first, second or third degree depends on the cost of the damage.

Proving Your Mental State

Arson, Malicious Mischief, and other crimes that can be charged under RCW 9A.48 include required mental states like “knowing” and “reckless.”

This means that law enforcement will either need to confirm or infer your mental state. Any interview you give or questions you answer will assist them in pursuing criminal charges. Accordingly, protect yourself and politely explain that you cannot speak to the law enforcement officer without your attorney being present. Call us 425-883-3366 – we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Defending Yourself Against Criminal Charges

If you are facing arson or malicious mischief charges we urge you to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorneys of Padula & Associates, LLC have handled hundreds of these types of cases, both simple and complex. As your fierce advocates, we will mount an aggressive defense in your case and help you fight for a just resolution.

Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense, and they will help you take on arson or malicious mischief allegations with confidence. For over 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the folks in King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive and effective criminal defense.

We are available 24/7. Consultations are free. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at, or fill out our online free consultation form today.