Menu

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 20: Arson Laws in Illinois

When any building catches fire, the authorities are quick to question whether the incident involved arson. The crime of arson has a very specific definition, described in this section of the Illinois Criminal Code.

Anyone who sets on fire the property of another person without consent, or sets fire to ones own property with the intent to defraud an insurer, may face criminal charges of arson. Usually a Class 2 felony, a conviction of arson could be upgraded to Class 1 felony status if the destroyed building was either a persons dwelling or a place of worship.

In addition, there are several circumstances in which a charge of aggravated arson may be brought. If the defendant knew that there was a person inside the building, if any person suffered great bodily harm due to the arson, or if a peace officer acting in the line of duty was injured on the scene, the defendant could face charges of aggravated arson. A conviction carries a Class X status.

Lastly, one does not have to physically burn a building down to be convicted of an arson-related offense. Anyone who possesses or transports incendiary or explosive devices with the intent to commit an offense can also face criminal prosecution. This crime, possession of explosive or incendiary devices, can carry a Class 1 felony with a minimum prison sentence of four years.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested for arson in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 20 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 20

Sec. 20-1. Arson.
    (720 ILCS 5/20-1)

A person commits arson when, by means of fire or explosive, he knowingly:

(a) Damages any real property, or any personal property having a value of $150 or more, of another without his consent; or

(b) With intent to defraud an insurer, damages any property or any personal property having a value of $150 or more.

Property "of another" means a building or other property, whether real or personal, in which a person other than the offender has an interest which the offender has no authority to defeat or impair, even though the offender may also have an interest in the building or property.

(c) Sentence.

Arson is a Class 2 felony. (Source: P. A. 77-2638.)

Sec. 20-1.1. Aggravated Arson.
    (720 ILCS 5/20-1.1)

(a) A person commits aggravated arson when in the course of committing arson he or she knowingly damages, partially or totally, any building or structure, including any adjacent building or structure, including all or any part of a school building, house trailer, watercraft, motor vehicle, or railroad car, and (1) he knows or reasonably should know that one or more persons are present therein or (2) any person suffers great bodily harm, or permanent disability or disfigurement as a result of the fire or explosion or (3) a fireman, policeman, or correctional officer who is present at the scene acting in the line of duty is injured as a result of the fire or explosion. For purposes of this Section, property "of another" means a building or other property, whether real or personal, in which a person other than the offender has an interest that the offender has no authority to defeat or impair, even though the offender may also have an interest in the building or property; and "school building" means any public or private preschool, elementary or secondary school, community college, college, or university.

(b) Sentence. Aggravated arson is a Class X felony. (Source: P.A. 93-335, eff. 7-24-03; 94-127, eff. 7-7-05; 94-393, eff. 8-1-05.)

Sec. 20-1.2. Residential arson.
    (720 ILCS 5/20-1.2)

(a) A person commits the offense of residential arson when, in the course of committing an arson, he or she knowingly damages, partially or totally, any building or structure that is the dwelling place of another.

(b) Sentence. Residential arson is a Class 1 felony. (Source: P.A. 90-787, eff. 8-14-98.)

Sec. 20-1.3. Place of worship arson.
    (720 ILCS 5/20-1.3)

(a) A person commits the offense of place of worship arson when, in the course of committing an arson, he or she knowingly damages, partially or totally, any place of worship.

(b) Sentence. Place of worship arson is a Class 1 felony. (Source: P.A. 93-169, eff. 7-10-03.)

Sec. 20-1.4. (Repealed).
    (720 ILCS 5/20-1.4)

(Source: P.A. 93-969, eff. 1-1-05. Repealed by P.A. 94-556, eff. 9-11-2005.)

Sec. 20-1.5. (Repealed).
    (720 ILCS 5/20-1.5)

(Source: P.A. 93-969, eff. 1-1-05. Repealed by P.A. 94-556, eff. 9-11-2005.)

Sec. 20-2. Possession of explosives or explosive or incendiary devices.
    (720 ILCS 5/20-2)

(a) A person commits the offense of possession of explosives or explosive or incendiary devices in violation of this Section when he or she possesses, manufactures or transports any explosive compound, timing or detonating device for use with any explosive compound or incendiary device and either intends to use such explosive or device to commit any offense or knows that another intends to use such explosive or device to commit a felony.

(b) Sentence.

Possession of explosives or explosive or incendiary devices in violation of this Section is a Class 1 felony for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to not less than 4 years and not more than 30 years.

(c) (Blank). (Source: P.A. 93-594, eff. 1-1-04; 94-556, eff. 9-11-05.)

   Return to Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 Table of Contents

DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer - (312) 466-9466 

Chicago Office

900 W. Jackson Blvd.

Suite 5W

Chicago, IL 60607

Map & Contact Info