What is arson?
Arson is the destruction of property by fire. Arson has been replaced in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) with several separate offences relating to the destruction of property. The main offence, destroying or damaging property by fire, is criminalised under section 195(1)(b) of the Crimes Act. This offence occurs when a person:
- Intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages property belonging to another, and
- The destruction or damage is caused by means of fire or explosives.
Causing a bushfire
A person can also face arson charges for starting a bushfire when they:
- Intentionally cause a fire, and
- Are reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on any public land or on land belonging to another.
Causing a bushfire is a crime under section 203E of the Crimes Act.
Arson penalties in NSW
The maximum penalty for the destruction of property by fire is 10 years imprisonment, and the court will frequently impose a prison sentence for this crime. The maximum sentences for other arson offences are listed in the table below.
|Offence||Maximum prison sentence|
|Destroying or damaging property by fire||10 years|
|Destroying or damaging property by fire in company||11 years|
|Destroying or damaging property by fire during public disorder||12 years|
|Destroying or damaging property with intent to injure a person||14 years|
|Dishonestly destroying or damaging property by fire||14 years|
|Destroying or damaging property, with the intention to endanger the life of another||25 years|
|Causing a bushfire||21 years|