Arson is the crime of willfully and maliciously setting fire or causing to burn a dwelling or building of another.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, Sections 1 and 2, punish those convicted of the crime of Arson with up to 20 years in state prison if the subject property is a dwelling; and for up to 10 years if the subjection property is a building.

In order to be convicted of Arson, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. That the defendant set fire to, burned or caused a building to be burned;
  2. That the building was a dwelling house or a building whose burning resulted in a dwelling house; and
  3. That the defendant acted willfully and maliciously.
Willfulness and malice are required to constitute the state of mind necessary to commit arson.  The word willfully means that the act was intentional and by design, rather than an act that is thoughtless or accidental.  A person acting willfully intends both his conduct and the resulting harm. 

For purposes of the crime of Arson, "malice" characterizes all acts done with evil disposition, with a wrong and unlawful motive or purpose or the willful doing of an injurious act without lawful excuse. 

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