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§81. Arson within special maritime and territorial jurisdiction
Whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns any building, structure or vessel, any machinery or building materials or supplies, military or naval stores, munitions of war, or any structural aids or appliances for navigation or shipping, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be imprisoned for not more than 25 years, fined the greater of the fine under this title or the cost of repairing or replacing any property that is damaged or destroyed, or both.
If the building be a dwelling or if the life of any person be placed in jeopardy, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both.
Historical and Revision Notes
Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §§464, 465 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §§285, 286, 35 Stat. 1144).
Sections were consolidated and rewritten both as to form and substance and that part of each section relating to destruction of property by means other than burning constitutes section 1363 of this title.
The words “within the maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States” were added to preserve existing limitations of territorial applicability. (See section 7 of this title and note thereunder.)
The phrase “any building, structure, or vessel, any machinery or building materials and supplies, military or naval stores, munitions of war or any structural aids or appliances for navigation or shipping” was substituted for “any dwelling house, or any store, barn, stable, or other building, parcel of a dwelling house”, in section 464 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., and “any arsenal, armory, magazine, rope walk, ship house, warehouse, blockhouse, or barrack, or any storehouse, barn or stable, not parcel of a dwelling house, or any other building not mentioned in the section last preceding, or any vessel, built, building, or undergoing repair, or any lighthouse, or beacon, or any machinery, timber, cables, rigging, or other materials or appliances for building, repairing or fitting out vessels, or any pile of wood, boards, or other lumber, or any military, naval or victualing stores, arms, or other munitions of war”, in section 465 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed. The substituted phrase is a concise and comprehensive description of the things enumerated in both sections.
The punishment provisions are new and are graduated with some regard to the gravity of the offense. It was felt that a possible punishment of 20 years for burning a wood pile or injuring or destroying an outbuilding was disproportionate and not in harmony with recent legislation.
2001—Pub. L. 107–56, in first par., struck out “, or attempts to set fire to or burn” after “maliciously sets fire to or burns” and inserted “or attempts or conspires to do such an act,” before “shall be imprisoned” and, in second par., substituted “for any term of years or for life” for “not more than twenty years”.
1996—Pub. L. 104–132, in first par., substituted “imprisoned for not more than 25 years, fined the greater of the fine under this title or the cost of repairing or replacing any property that is damaged or destroyed, or both” for “fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both”.
1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $1,000” in first par. and for “fined not more than $5,000” in second par.