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Arson Epidemic

NCJ Number
D L Rosenbauer
Date Published
88 pages
The text deals with the basic facts associated with the arson problem as it exists today, focusing on why people set fires, the legal definition of arson, and the development of model arson laws from the original common law arson.
It discusses the need for adoption by the States of arson laws which provide some degree of consistency, identifies the two basic elements of every crime (a criminal intent and a criminal act), and distinguishes between felonies and misdemeanors. The elements of the crime of arson are discussed, as well as the burden of proof required for a conviction in criminal cases. The two main types of evidence are defined: direct and circumstantial. The value of corroborative and cumulative evidence in arson cases is covered, as well as the requirements for admissible evidence. The text identifies factors contributing to the phenomenal increase in fires classified as incendiary/suspicious. It lists organizations and individuals at all levels of government and in the insurance industry who are involved in efforts to control arson. Photographs, tables, and footnotes are supplied. (Author summary modified)


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