Elements of Proof Arson Investigation unit 1 - 86871

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Elements of Proof

Ashley Adams

American InterContinental University






Arson is classified as a property crime (Bouquard, T., 2004). Arson can cause a significant amount of damage to someone’s life, financially and emotionally. It is time consuming and difficult to investigate because the burden of proof that the fire was intentionally started is often very hard to prove. In this essay, I will discuss the elements of proof for an arson fire. A description of two distinct motives for individuals that commit arson will also be given. These two motives will fall under a social, economic or psychological category. I will provide a background of the type of person that is likely to commit such crime and connect them to the motives. Finding leads on the suspect for this type of crime can sometimes be very difficult. I will give suggestions on things that might help develop leads on the suspect. Lastly, I will also tell what type of artifacts an investigator should be aware of that would help to identify the motives of an arsonist if the investigator was given the opportunity to search the residence and or business of the suspect.




Elements of Proof

            When it comes to fire scenes, there can be a great number of surprises. An investigator must gather facts about the scene because without the facts then the truth as to why the fire started will never be established. In the United States, arson is a serious problem. Arson is the number one cause of fires and the number two cause of people dying in a fire. In damages, arson costs more than one billion dollars yearly. Arson is defined as a crime where someone maliciously burns someone else’s property or burns they’re own property in order to gain something from the destruction (Bouquard, T., 2004). There are so many possibilities when it comes to the reason as to why a person would commit such crime.

            Arson is the malicious or fraudulent burning of property. In criminal justice it is understood that all criminal cases must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” and civil cases require “clear and convincing evidence” (Bouquard, T., 2004). The origin and the cause of a fire can vary and involve a number of things that have to be taken into consideration. Property crimes, are crimes in which property is destroyed. Property such as an inhabited structure, vehicle, building, etc. Other property crimes would be where the property is taken against the will of the owner. In order to constitute the offense of arson, it must be proven that the suspect intended to burn the property, the conduct of the suspect must be proven that he or she didn’t accidentally set the fire, which the act was done maliciously. Malice is not only when the actions are done with ill will, intentional reckless conduct is enough to constitute malice (Bouquard, T., 2004).

            There are three main things tha