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Arson

Many fires in Minnesota are the result of unfortunate oversights or other accidents, but investigators will occasionally uncover evidence that fires were deliberately set with the intent to damage property or possibly injure people. Arson is the crime of intentionally setting fire to property, and it can be a felony or misdemeanor offense in Minnesota.

Because fires rarely have any witnesses who can speculate what started a blaze, police officers, insurance companies, and other investigators will often begin questioning all people involved in order to find somebody to blame. Innocent property owners who have suffered enormous losses can find themselves suspected or even accused of arson as the result of misinterpreted answers to questions or other circumstantial evidence.

Lawyer for Arson Arrests in Apple Valley, MN

If you believe that you are currently being investigated or you were already arrested for allegedly committing arson in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, it is in your best interest to not say anything to authorities without legal counsel. James Blumberg Law aggressively defends clients in communities throughout Dakota County, Carver County, Hennepin County, Scott County, Anoka County, Washington County, and Ramsey County.

Apple Valley criminal defense attorney James Blumberg represents people accused of all kinds of property crimes in Plymouth, Maple Grove, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Woodbury, Eden Prairie, Brooklyn Park, and many other surrounding areas. You can have him provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (952) 431-7758 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.


Minnesota Arson Crimes Information Center


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Felony Arson Charges in Dakota County

Arson becomes a felony offense in Minnesota when it causes significant damage or people are injured because of the crime. Degrees of arson in Minnesota that are classified as felonies include the following:

  • Arson in the First Degree, Minnesota Statute § 609.561 — Intentionally destroying or damaging any building that is used as a dwelling—whether the inhabitant is present therein at the time of the act or not—or any building appurtenant to or connected with a dwelling by means of fire or explosives is considered first-degree arson punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000. Intentionally destroying or damaging any other type of building by means of fire or explosives when the alleged offender knows another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in the building or “the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such a person therein a reasonable possibility” is also considered first-degree arson punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $35,000. Intentionally destroying or damaging any building that is not a dwelling by means of fire or explosives and using a flammable material to start or accelerate the fire is also first-degree arson punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
  • Arson in the Second Degree, Minnesota Statute § 609.562 — Intentionally destroying or damaging any building not covered by Minnesota Statute § 609.561 or any other real or personal property valued at more than $1,000 by means of fire or explosives is second-degree arson punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
  • Arson in the Third Degree, Minnesota Statute § 609.563 — Intentionally destroying or damaging any real or personal property valued at more than $300 but less than $1,000 by means of fire or explosives is third-degree arson punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Wildfire Arson, Minnesota Statute § 609.5641 — Intentionally setting a fire to burn out of control on land of another containing timber, underbrush, grass, or other vegetative combustible material is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000 if the fire threatens to damage or damages in excess of five buildings or dwellings, burns 500 acres or more, or damages crops in excess of $100,000. If the fire threatens to damage or damages in excess of 100 buildings or dwellings, burns 1,500 acres or more, or damages crops in excess of $250,000, a conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. If the fire causes another person to suffer demonstrable bodily harm, a conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000. In all other cases, wildfire arson is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Negligent Fire Resulting in Injury or Property Damage, Minnesota Statute § 609.576 — If an alleged offender is grossly negligent in causing a fire to burn or get out of control thereby causing damage or injury to another, and a human being is injured and great bodily harm incurred, a conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If property is damaged and the property is valued at $2,500 or more, a conviction is punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Dangerous Smoking, Minnesota Statute § 609.576 — If an alleged offender smokes in the presence of explosives or inflammable materials and knows that doing so creates a risk of death or bodily harm or serious property damage, a conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

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Misdemeanor Arson Penalties in Apple Valley

Some arson offenses in Minnesota are classified as misdemeanors. The lesser degrees of arson include:

  • Arson in the Fourth Degree, Minnesota Statute § 609.5631 — Intentionally by means of fire or explosives setting fire to, burning, or causing to be burned any personal property in a multiple unit residential building—defined as a building containing two or more apartments—or public building—defined as a building such as a hotel, hospital, motel, dormitory, sanitarium, nursing home, theater, stadium, gymnasium, amusement park building, school or other building used for educational purposes, museum, restaurant, bar, correctional institution, place of worship, or other building of public assembly—is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
  • Arson in the Fifth Degree, Minnesota Statute § 609.5632 — Intentionally by means of fire or explosives setting fire to, burning, or causing to be burned any real or personal property of value is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Use of Ignition Devices, Minnesota Statute § 609.5633 — A student who uses an ignition device—including a butane or disposable lighter or matches—inside an educational building and under circumstances where there is an obvious risk of fire, and arson in the first, second, third, or fourth degree was not committed, commits a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300.
  • Possession of Flammables to Set Wildfires, Minnesota Statute § 609.5641 — Possessing a flammable, explosive, or incendiary device, substance, or material with the intent to use the device, substance, or material to intentionally set a fire to burn out of control on land of another containing timber, underbrush, grass, or other vegetative combustible material is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
  • Negligent Fire Resulting in Injury or Property Damage, Minnesota Statute § 609.576 — If an alleged offender is grossly negligent in causing a fire to burn or get out of control thereby causing damage or injury to another, and a human being is injured and bodily harm incurred, the offense is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000. If property is damaged and the value of the property is at least $300 but less than $2,500, the offense is also a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000. If the property damaged is valued at less than $300, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

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Minnesota Arson Offense Resources

Fire Investigation | Minnesota Department of Public Safety — Visit this section of the State Fire Marshal website to learn more about how fire investigations are handled in Minnesota. You can view the investigation services booklet, find information about major incident investigation trailers, and learn how the state’s arson tip hotline works. Minnesota Statute § 299F.04 assigns responsibility for determining the origin and cause of fires to the local fire chief, and Apple Valley has its own volunteer paid-on-call fire department.

Apple Valley Fire Department
7100 147th St. W.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 322-2323

Minnesota Chapter of International Association of Arson Investigators (MNIAAI) — The MNIAAI is a not-for-profit professional association of fire investigators and individuals working to suppress the crime of arson. On this website, you can submit tips to the arson hotline and find links to many other associations and organizations. You can also learn about the Minnesota Arson Reward Project and view an Arson Reward Project application.


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James Blumberg Law | Apple Valley Arson Lawyer

Were you arrested or do you think that you might be under investigation for alleged arson anywhere in the Twin Cities? Do not make any kind of statement to investigators or authorities until you have contacted James Blumberg Law.

James Blumberg is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Apple Valley who represents clients all over the greater Dakota County area, including Minnetonka, Lakeville, Burnsville, St. Cloud, Eagan, Bloomington, and several other nearby communities. Call (952) 431-7758 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation that will let our lawyer review your case and discuss your legal options.


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James L. Blumberg

Attorney James L. Blumberg

As a former prosecutor in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, James Blumberg has experience on both sides of the criminal courtroom. He knows how to fight to get charges reduced or dismissed for clients in the Twin Cities area.

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