What is Starting a Bush Fire (ARSON) ?
It is an offence to cause a fire. Causing a fire includes, lighting a fire, or Maintaining a fire, and Failing to contain a fire, except where the fire was lit by another person or the fire is beyond the control of the person who lit the fire.
An offence of Starting a Bush fire (Arson) is what is known as a “Table 1” offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is it is to be dealt with on indictment by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
What must the prosecution prove?
Since Starting a Bush Fire offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.
As one of the Top Lawyers available in Sydney we always ensure the prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.
That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Starting a Bush Fire.
To establish Starting a Bush Fire, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt;
- You intentionally caused a fire
- You were reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on any public land or on land belonging to another
Note: The spread of the fire can be established simply by proof of intention.
Section 203E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states:
A person: Who intentionally causes a fire, and Who is reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on any public land or on land belonging to another Is guilty of an offence.
If you are charged with the offence of Starting a Bush Fire what are your options?
National Criminal Lawyers have been successful in defending a number of Starting a Bush Fire charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Starting a Bush Fire.
NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with Starting a Bush Fire;
- We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
- NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
- Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
- Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.
Fequently Asked Questions
If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.
Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.
Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.
Causing a fire can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) or up to 14 years (If heard in the District Court).
Please note these penalties are reserved for the worst kind of offending and are unlikely to be what you would receive.
If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.
A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.
National Criminal Lawyers have defended numerous people charged with Starting a Bush Fire and are experts at these hearings.
Some of the possible defences available for those charged with Starting a Bush Fire can include;
- You are a firefighter or were acting under direction of a firefighter and caused the fire in the course of bushfire fighting or hazard reduction;
- If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue “Duress”;
- If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of “Necessity”; Or
- If you were defending yourself or another OR yours or another’s property you may have a Defence of Self-Defence.
The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green  HCA 45, the plurity judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ stated:
“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.
For Starting a Bush Fire 50% of offenders received full time imprisonment whereas 24% received a s9 good behaviour bond.
In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Starting a Bush Fire charge.
- Prison sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention)
- Suspended sentence
- Community service order (CSO)
- Good behaviour bond
- Fine; and/or
- Section 10
However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:
- Full time Imprisonment
- New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available
- New Community Correction Order (CCO)
- Fine; and/or
- New Conditional release Order (CRO)
Our client was charged Arson pursuant to section 203E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). After entering a plea of guilty, we represented our client in his sentencing hearing. We presented strong character evidence, proven attempts at rehabilitation, and the impact on his career. Our client received a discharge without record of conviction.
Why National Criminal Lawyers?
There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:
1. Your best chance to get the result you’re after
We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.
2. How a Senior Defence Lawyer Can Help You Deal With Criminal Charges
No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.
3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights
At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.
If you have been charged with any Starting a Bush Fire offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.
Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.