Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Arson Charges in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Arson Charges in Iowa

Iowa Code Chapter 712 covers the crime of arson. Arson is defined as causing a fire or explosion, placing any burning or combustible material, or any incendiary or explosive device or material in or near any property with the intent to destroy or damage property or with knowledge that the property will probably be destroyed or damaged, whether the property is actually destroyed or damaged. It is not arson when the property owner consents to the defendant’s acts, when the insurer has not been fraudulently exposed to any risk, and when the act is not done in such a manner as to unreasonably endanger the life or property of any other person. When a defendant causes a fire or explosion that damages or destroys property while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance, the defendant also commits arson.


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Arson in the first degree is a class B felony and occurs when the presence of one or more persons can reasonably be anticipated in or near the property at issue or when the arson results in a death of a fire fighter. Arson in the second degree is a class C felony and occurs when the property at issue is a building, structure, real property, crops, or is personal property worth more than five hundred dollars. Arson in the third decree is an aggravated misdemeanor and occurs in any circumstance not covered by the other two types of arson.

Reckless use of fire, incendiary device, explosive device, or material, which endangers the property or safety of another, is a serious misdemeanor. Possession of an incendiary device, explosive device, or material with the intent to use such device is a class C felony. Mere possession of such a device or material is an aggravated misdemeanor. If a person has a valid permit to possess such device or material, it is not a violation of the law. A person who intends to intimidate, annoy, or alarm another person and places a simulated explosive or incendiary device in or near an occupied structure commits a serious misdemeanor. A person who knowingly conveys or causes to be conveyed to any person false information about the placement of an incendiary or explosive device or material or destructive device or material in any place where persons or property would be endangered commits a class D felony. Finally, any person who threatens to place or attempts to place an incendiary or explosive device or material or destructive substance or device in any place where it will endanger persons or property commits a class D felony.


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