Any criminal lawyer in Mississippi will tell you that Mississippi law generally does not require citizens to report crimes or even emergencies to the appropriate authorities. However, a very narrow exception to this rule exists when it comes to a person who accidentally starts a fire at a church or state-supported school. Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 97-17-3(2), any person who accidentally starts a fire at a church or school is required to alert appropriate authorities, such as the fire department, to report the fire.
Failure to report a fire under these circumstances is a felony, and has a potential sentence of two (2) years to ten (10) years in prison, and restitution for any property damage as a result of the fire.
This statute does not make it a crime to accidentally start a fire (to qualify as arson in Mississippi the fire must be intentionally set). This law makes it a crime to fail to report a fire that the person accidentally started. And again, this law applies only where the building that caught fire was a state-supported school or church.
If you have been charged with a crime relating to arson in Mississippi, please contact Mississippi criminal lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984. There is no charge for an initial consultation.