Deliberately lit fires cause substantial damage to people, animals, property and the environment in WA.
In WA, over 300 arson related charges are laid by WA Police every year.
The penalties for arson in WA are severe. Criminal damage by fire can lead to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The legislation relating to arson offences was amended in 2009, with tougher penalties and new offences added to the Criminal Code in WA.
Section 444 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to destroy or damage property in WA. If the destruction or damage is caused by fire, this offence is now punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Under section 445 of the Criminal Code a person commits an offence if they unlawfully destroy or damage the property of another person without that person’s consent. This offence can lead to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two years and a fine of $24,000.
Arson offences in WA are dealt with by the Supreme Court of WA as they carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Section 32 of the Bush Fires Act 1954 makes it an offence to light or attempt to light a fire or to place a flammable thing or substance in a position that it may ignite or be set on fire in circumstances where it is likely to injure a person or damage a property. This offence can lead to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 20 years.
Rewards of up to $50,000 are offered for reporting information that leads to the identification and conviction of arsonists. The rewards are made available through the State Government and the Insurance Council of Australia’s Arson Reward Scheme.
DFES actively encourages people with knowledge of suspicious fires or arson to report this information to Police. Please ring Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Tim Hayter, Principal, Mid West Lawyers
This information is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought for your particular circumstances.