Mississippi law deals severely with persons who are charged with arson of a church or house of worship. The Mississippi first-degree arson statutes contain a section that deals specifically with setting fire to a church.
The basic elements of church arson in Mississippi are similar to those for arson of a house or dwelling. Specifically, in order to prove the charge of arson of a church, the State must show: (1) that the defendant willfully and maliciously, (2) set fire to, or burned, or caused to be burned, or was a party to destruction by explosion from combustible material, (3) a church or other place of worship. Mississippi arson law also provides that a person may be charged and convicted under the arson statute if he aids, counsels or procures the burning of a church or place of worship.
In addition to the above, under Mississippi arson law, a person can be found guilty of arson of a church regardless of whether the church was in use or vacant.
A person charged with arson of a church in Mississippi faces a potential sentence of five (5) to thirty (30) years in prison, and restitution for any property damaged as a result of the arson. It is noteworthy that this maximum sentence exceeds the maximum sentence for arson of a dwelling by ten (10) years.
Of all crimes in Mississippi, arson is perhaps the most defensible. Arson is the type of crime that usually has no witnesses, the case is entirely circumstantial, most physical evidence is destroyed by fire, and arson investigators frequently disagree with one another as to the cause and origin of a fire. The nature of this crime provides a defense on every front for someone charged with arson in Mississippi.
I am a Mississippi criminal defense lawyer and I’m here to help. If you’ve been charged with arson of a church or other building, please visit my Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense website for more information, or call 601.944.1984 for a free case evaluation.