Understanding Arson Charges in Ontario

Are you facing arson charges in Ontario? Sondhi Defence can assist you. Call us today for a full case review.

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An Overview of Arson Charges in Ontario

Arson involves intentionally causing damage by fire to a structure, property or human life. Regardless of the target of the act, it is a grave criminal offence with significant legal consequences. 

The crime of arson poses severe risks, threatening properties and human lives. Our guide will outline arson charges in Ontario, their types, penalties, and the necessary evidence for convictions. At Sondhi Defence, we handle arson cases and provide the necessary legal representation to obtain favourable outcomes.

What Is Arson?

Arson in Ontario is the deliberate act of setting fire or explosion to property with the intent to cause harm or destruction. The Canada Criminal Code addresses arson under several sections. Each section deals with a specific type of arson. 

Different Types of Arson and Their Characteristics

Below are the different types of arsons and their characteristics.

Disregard for Human Life (s.433 of the Criminal Code)

Arson with disregard for human life involves intentionally or recklessly causing fire or explosion with the risk of serious harm or death to others. This offence is an indictable offence punishable by life imprisonment.

Causing Damage to Property (s.434 of the Code)

Arson-causing property damage covers intentional or reckless acts that harm structures, dwellings, or other properties. It is an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Arson Involving Your Own Property (s.434(1) of the Code)

Arson involving one’s property is a distinct category. It acknowledges that even if a person owns the property, they can not commit arson that threatens other people’s health and safety. This offence is indictable and can lead to a jail term not exceeding fourteen years.

Arson for Fraudulent Purposes (435(1) of the Code)

Fraud arson involves causing a fire to defraud an insurance company or another person for financial gain. It can be prosecuted as an indictable or summary offence. As an indictable offence, fraud arson is punishable by a maximum of ten years in prison.

Arson by Negligence (s.436(1) of the Code)

Arson by negligence addresses cases where a person who owns or controls property who, as a result of a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person, causes bodily harm to another person or damage to property by fire or explosion. This offence carries imprisonment for a term of not exceeding five years if charged as an indictable offence.

Arson: a Summary or Indictable Offence?

In Ontario, arson can be classified as a summary, indictable or hybrid offence, depending on the following factors:

  • Circumstances of the case

  • The severity of the offence

  • The degree of harm caused

  • Any aggravating factors

Arson as a Summary Offence

An offence punishable on summary conviction is less severe than an indictable offence. Its maximum penalty is imprisonment for not exceeding two years, a fine, or both.

Arson as an Indictable Offence

If the arson case is more serious, it is charged as an indictable offence. It carries harsher penalties, up to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

When facing arson charges in Ontario, the help of qualified criminal defence lawyers is indispensable. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

What Is the Evidence Required for Arson Convictions in Ontario?


To secure an arson conviction in Ontario, prosecutors need to establish certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt, including:

  • The defendant committed the alleged crime
  • Intent, recklessness, or negligence

Other elements vary depending on the specific charges:

  1. Arson with disregard for human life: The prosecution needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused intentionally or recklessly caused a fire, disregarding other people’s lives or causing bodily harm.
  2. Arson causing property damage: The prosecution should establish that the accused intentionally or recklessly set fire to a property, causing measurable damage.
  3. Arson involving one’s property: The prosecution is required to prove that the accused intentionally or recklessly caused a fire to their own property.
  4. Arson for fraudulent purposes: The prosecution needs to show that the accused intentionally set fire to defraud another party.
  5. Arson by negligence: The prosecution needs to prove that the accused, through negligent actions, caused a fire leading to harm or damage.

Defences Against Arson Charges

Some of the general defence strategies Sondhi Defence uses in arson cases include:

  • Challenging evidence, such as witness statements or forensic findings

  • Establishing alibi

  • Questioning intent to commit arson

  • Identifying and challenging the violation of constitutional rights

At Sondhi Defence, we have extensive experience in criminal defence. Our law firm is committed to offering comprehensive legal representation. We aim to ensure clients receive a thorough and effective defence.

The Court Process for Arson Charges

The court process for arson charges involves the following steps:

  • Arrest: The police apprehend the accused based on probable cause.

  • Bail hearing: A judge presides over a bail hearing to determine whether to release the defendant from custody pending trial.

  • Charging: The crown prosecutor formally charges the accused.

  • A preliminary hearing: To determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

  • Trial: Both parties present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and raise legal issues before a judge or jury.

  • Sentencing: If found guilty, the court determines the appropriate punishment for the defendant.

Having a defence lawyer’s help at every stage of the legal process is crucial.

The Role of a Defence Lawyer in Arson Cases

When facing arson charges, seeking legal representation is crucial to your case. A criminal defence lawyer from Sondhi Defence can assist in the following ways:

  • Ensuring that your rights are protected
  • Developing and implementing a strategic defence tailored to your case
  • Negotiating with the prosecution to explore potential plea deals or reduced charges
  • Providing effective advocacy in court, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and arguing legal points

Safeguarding Your Future with Sondhi Defence

If you or someone you know is struggling with arson charges in Ontario, our team of experienced and diligent criminal defence lawyers at Sondhi Defence is here to help understand your arson charges and legal options. We can provide the necessary legal representation to bring you the most favourable outcomes. 

Contact us today for a free case evaluation!

Get In Touch

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, call us right away at 1 (855) 4-SONDHI and get our team on your side. 

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