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Arson

§ 3301.  Arson and related offenses.

(a)  Arson endangering persons.--

(1)  A person commits a felony of the first degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and if:

(i)  he thereby recklessly places another person in danger of death or bodily injury, including but not limited to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii)  he commits the act with the purpose of destroying or damaging an inhabited building or occupied structure of another.

(2)  A person who commits arson endangering persons is guilty of murder of the second degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person, including but not limited to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire, and is guilty of murder of the first degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person and was set with the purpose of causing the death of another person.

(a.1)  Aggravated arson.--

(1)  A person commits a felony of the first degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and if:

(i)  he thereby attempts to cause, or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, including, but not limited to, a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii)  he commits an offense under this section which is graded as a felony when a person is present inside the property at the time of the offense.

(2)  A person who commits aggravated arson is guilty of murder of the second degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person, including, but not limited to, a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire.

(a.2)  Arson of historic resource.--A person commits a felony of the second degree if the person, with the intent of destroying or damaging a historic resource of another, does any of the following:

(1)  Intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on the person's own property or that of another.

(2)  Aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion.

(b)  Sentence.--

(1)  A person convicted of violating the provisions of subsection (a)(2), murder of the first degree, shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without right to parole; a person convicted of murder of the second degree, pursuant to subsection (a)(2), shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without right to parole. Notwithstanding provisions to the contrary, no language herein shall infringe upon the inherent powers of the Governor to commute said sentence.

(2)  A person convicted under subsection (a.1) may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years if:

(i)  bodily injury results to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii)  serious bodily injury results to a civilian.

(c)  Arson endangering property.--A person commits a felony of the second degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or that of another, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, and if:

(1)  he commits the act with intent of destroying or damaging a building or unoccupied structure of another;

(2)  he thereby recklessly places an inhabited building or occupied structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or

(3)  he commits the act with intent of destroying or damaging any property, whether his own or of another, to collect insurance for such loss.

(d)  Reckless burning or exploding.--A person commits a felony of the third degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and thereby recklessly:

(1)  places an uninhabited building or unoccupied structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or

(2)  places any personal property of another having a value that exceeds $5,000 or if the property is an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle in danger of damage or destruction.

(d.1)  Dangerous burning.--A person commits a summary offense if he intentionally or recklessly starts a fire to endanger any person or property of another whether or not any damage to person or property actually occurs.

(e)  Failure to control or report dangerous fires.--A person who knows that a fire is endangering the life or property of another and fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire, when he can do so without substantial risk to himself, or to give a prompt fire alarm, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if:

(1)  he knows that he is under an official, contractual or other legal duty to control or combat the fire; or

(2)  the fire was started, albeit lawfully, by him or with his assent, or on property in his custody or control.

(f)  Possession of explosive or incendiary materials or devices.--A person commits a felony of the third degree if he possesses, manufactures or transports any incendiary or explosive device or material with the intent to use or to provide such device or material to commit any offense described in this chapter.

(g)  Disclosure of true owner.--Law enforcement officers investigating an offense under this section may require a trustee of a passive trust or trust involving an undisclosed principal or straw party to disclose the actual owner or beneficiary of the real property in question. The name of the actual owner or beneficiary of real estate subject to a passive trust, trust involving an undisclosed principal or arrangement with a straw party when obtained under the provisions of this subsection shall not be disclosed except as an official part of an investigation and prosecution of an offense under this section. A person who refuses to disclose a name as required by this section or who discloses a name in violation of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(h)  Limitations on liability.--The provisions of subsections (a), (b), (c), (d), (d.1) and (e) shall not be construed to establish criminal liability upon any volunteer or paid firefighter or volunteer or paid firefighting company or association if said company or association endangers a participating firefighter or real or personal property in the course of an approved, controlled fire training program or fire evolution, provided that said company or association has complied with the following:

(1)  a sworn statement from the owner of any real or personal property involved in such program or evolution that there is no fire insurance policy or no lien or encumbrance exists which applies to such real or personal property;

(2)  approval or permits from the appropriate local government or State officials, if necessary, to conduct such program or exercise have been received;

(3)  precautions have been taken so that the program or evolution does not affect any other persons or real or personal property; and

(4)  participation of firefighters in the program or exercise if voluntary.

(h.1)  Prohibition on certain service.--(Deleted by amendment).

(i)  Defenses.--It is a defense to prosecution under subsections (c), (d) and (d.1) where a person is charged with destroying a vehicle, lawful title to which is vested in him, if the vehicle is free of any encumbrances, there is no insurance covering loss by fire or explosion or both on the vehicle and the person delivers to the nearest State Police station at least 48 hours in advance of the planned destruction a written sworn statement certifying that the person is the lawful titleholder, that the vehicle is free of any encumbrances and that there is no insurance covering loss by fire or explosion or both on the vehicle.

(j)  Definitions.--As used in this section the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Historic resource."  A building or structure, including a covered bridge, which:

(1)  has been in existence for more than 100 years, including partial or complete reconstruction of a building or structure originally erected at least 100 years ago; or

(2)  has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places.

"Occupied structure."  Any structure, vehicle or place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons or for carrying on business therein, whether or not a person is actually present. If a building or structure is divided into separately occupied units, any unit not occupied by the actor is an occupied structure of another.

"Property of another."  A building or other property, whether real or personal, in which a person other than the actor has an interest which the actor has no authority to defeat or impair, even though the actor may also have an interest in the building or property.

(Apr. 29, 1982, P.L.363, No.101, eff. 90 days; Dec. 7, 1982, P.L.811, No.227, eff. 60 days; Dec. 3, 1998, P.L.933, No.121, eff. 60 days; Nov. 29, 2006, P.L.1481, No.168, eff. 60 days; Nov. 23, 2010, P.L.1181, No.118, eff. 60 days; Feb. 25, 2014, P.L.33, No.16, eff. 60 days)

 

2014 Amendment.  Act 16 amended subsecs. (b), (f) and (j) and added subsecs. (a.1) and (a.2).

2010 Amendment.  Act 118 deleted subsec. (h.1).

1998 Amendment.  Act 121 amended subsecs. (d), (h) and (i) and added subsec. (d.1).

1982 Amendment.  Section 3 of Act 227 provided that, notwithstanding the provisions of 1 Pa.C.S. § 1955, the amendments to section 3301 by Act 101 are repealed.

Cross References.  Section 3301 is referred to in sections 3308, 3311, 5702, 5708, 6105 of this title; sections 3103, 5329 of Title 23 (Domestic Relations); section 7713 of Title 35 (Health and Safety); sections 5552, 6307, 6308, 6336, 9714, 9802 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure); section 702 of Title 54 (Names); sections 3903, 4103, 7122 of Title 61 (Prisons and Parole).