Deliberately lit fires: Arson is a criminal offence

LATELY, Queensland has been subjected to a number of bush fires which has put all our firefighters under substantial strain.

While some of these bushfires have started from natural causes, some of these fires have been deliberately lit.

Under section 461 of the Criminal Code, arson is when any person wilfully or unlawfully sets fire to any building, structure, motor vehicle, train, cultivated vegetable produce, mine etc. and will be liable to imprisonment for life.

Further, there are charges relating to endangering a particular property by fire or setting fire to crops, both of which have a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.

It is clear charges are not to be taken lightly.

The court could determine that the cost of requiring the fire brigade, an investigation and potential threat to life are aggravating features of the crime. Along with the potential for imprisonment, a person may find that they are also subject to restitution amounts for damage to any property.

The State of Queensland provides daily reports on fire threat levels along with fire bans and we should all be vigilant in following the bans.

These can also have penalties imposed should a person ignore the ban.

We need to be fully aware of the devastation bush fires cause and the danger they put our firefighters and volunteers in. Be vigilant and do not light, maintain or use a fire in the open air so we all ensure the safety of our community, property and the environment but especially those who are involved in preventing the spread of fires.

Check the RFS website at www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au for up to date information.

Until next week – Keep it Legal!

Matthew Fairclough
mfairclough@walkerpender.com.au

*The legal information in this article is of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon.

Walker PenderDeliberately lit fires: Arson is a criminal offence