What is Arson in Texas? | Arson Charges and Punishment in Texas


What is arson in Texas?

Arson is defined in Penal Code 28.02 and it involves causing an explosion or setting fire to land, buildings, or other property. A person commits arson when they start a fire or cause an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any vegetation, fence or structure on open space land or any building, habitation or vehicle knowing it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town, it is insured, it is subject to mortgage or security interest, it is on property belonging to another, it has property within it, or the person who starts the fire or explosion is reckless about whether it will endanger the life or safety of property or persons.

There is an exception to prosecution for vegetation, fence or structure on open spaced land if it is part of a controlled burn on open spaced land as well as a defense to prosecution of burning or exploding a building, habitation or vehicle if the actor obtained a permit or written authorization.

What is the punishment for arson in Texas?

First Degree Arson in Texas

If a person commits arson that causes bodily injury or death, the offense is a first degree felony. If the structure burned or exploded is a habitation or a place of worship such as a church or a mosque, it is also a felony of the first degree.

Second Degree Arson in Texas

Arson is generally a second degree felony in Texas. A second degree felony carries a punishment range of two to twenty years in prison.

Keep reading or

You can also call us at (817) 203-2220

for same-day appointments or phone consultations.

Third Degree Arson in Texas

According to the Penal Code, a person who recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing a controlled substance which damages a building, habitation or vehicle, has also committed arson. In the case of cooking meth or another similar substance, a person who starts a fire or an explosion which causes bodily injury or death has committed a felony of the third degree.

State Jail Felony Arson in Texas

All other fires or explosions that result from a meth cook or other similar conduct are state jail felonies. The final portion of the arson statute addresses a person who recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion or damages or destroys a building belonging to another. In such a case, arson would be punished as a state jail felony.

Defending Arson Cases in Texas

There is a lot of pseudoscience in arson investigations and that becomes an area ripe for attacking the prosecution’s case. The problem with inaccurate arson investigations is so great that it has become a focus of the Texas Forensic Commission. If you or a loved one has been charged with arson in north Texas and are prepared to put our firm to work for you, contact us at (817) 203-2220 or online:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese