Don’t play with fire – that’s the message a bill before the S.C. Legislature aims to send to would-be arsonists.
House Bill 3545 will restructure degrees of arson if the bill becomes law. Right now, state law doesn’t differentiate between type of buildings burned, and only levels a first-degree arson charge – the most serious kind – when there is a death, according to Jason Pope, deputy director of the South Carolina Firefighters Association.
The goal of the legislation is to show the value of a building burned, such as the difference between a church and a small shed, and to allow a more serious charge for serious injuries. “You could burn my house down or you could burn the State House – it would be the same conviction,” Pope said.
Currently, state law requires a charge of first degree arson if someone dies in a fire, second degree arson for cases of serious bodily injury, and third degree arson for other injuries and property damage.