Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stripper Arson Bar Lingerie

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20026827-504083.html


Am I the only one who thinks this is the most entertaining criminal law story of the past six months?  I mean really - how often do you get to read about allegations of a stripper setting another stripper's lingerie ablaze because stripper #2 was "stealing customers"???


A couple of people have asked me how this can possibly be "arson."  The answer is that if the allegations are true, it could very well be arson.


I'd like to start by saying that everyone is innocent unless they plead guilty or they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Not many people take the presumption of innocence more seriously than myself.  The above article is simply a report about what police officers said, and is not necessarily the truth.


That being said, for the sole purpose of debating the subject of arson, we will assume that the allegations are true.  Word around the campfire is that Mrs. Anderson is charged with Arson in the First.  I haven't substantiated that rumor (if anyone gets the opportunity to ask her, let me know), but police frequently "over-charge" people, so I wouldn't be surprised.  Let's start with Arson in the First.  KRS 513.020 governs this offense, and reads:



513.020 Arson in the first degree.
(1) A person is guilty of arson in the first degree when, with intent to destroy or damage a building, he starts a fire or causes an explosion, and;
(a) The building is inhabited or occupied or the person has reason to believe the building may be inhabited or occupied; or
(b) Any other person sustains serious physical injury as a result of the fire or explosion or the firefighting as a result thereof.
(2) Arson in the first degree is a Class A felony.

If the police charged Ms. Anderson with Arson in the First, and the allegations are true, she is not guilty of the offense for which she is charged.  The first sentence of the statute it requires a specific intent to destroy or damage a building.  If the allegations are true, Mrs. Anderson had no such intent.  Her intent was to destroy lingerie, in order to teach Stripper #2 a lesson about stealing customers.  Anderson is Not Guilty.

Let's move on to Arson in the Second.

This offense is governed by KRS 513.030, and reads as follows:

513.030 Arson in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of arson in the second degree when he starts a fire or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage a building:
(a) Of another; or
(b) Of his own or of another, to collect or facilitate the collection of insurance proceeds for such loss.
(2) In any prosecution under this section, it is a defense that:
(a) No person other than the defendant had a possessory or proprietary interest in the building, or, if other persons had such an interest, all of them consented to the defendant's conduct; and
(b) The defendant's sole intent was to destroy or damage the building for a lawful purpose.
(3) Arson in the second degree is a Class B felony.

Again, we don't need to get past the first sentence.  This statute also requires the specific intent to destroy or damage a building.

The lowest level of arson in the Commonwealth is Arson in the Third.  It is governed by KRS 513.040, and reads:

513.040 Arson in the third degree.
(1) A person is guilty of arson in the third degree if he wantonly causes destruction or damage to a building of his own or of another by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion.
(2) In any prosecution under this section, it is a defense that no person other than the defendant had a possessory or proprietary interest in the building, or, if other persons had such an interest, all of them consented to defendant's conduct.
(3) Arson in the third degree is a Class D felony.


Mrs. Anderson might have a problem getting past this one (if the allegations are true).  Starting a fire inside a building may or may not be considered "wanton" behavior.  This is a fact driven situation.  I think most people would agree that starting a fire inside a fireplace isn't wanton behavior.  Most people would also agree that starting a fire directly on a carpet by using an accelerant like lighter fluid would be wanton.  If you start a fire indoors on a non-flammable surface, it might not be considered "wanton" by some people.  Starting a fire ON a pool table, which has an inflammable slate base underneath the felt may just be negligent, not wanton.  It depends on who you ask.  If the fire was started directly on the carpet, there is more of a chance that the entire building could go up in flames, so it would probably be considered more wanton behavior.

But take note - if the police actually did charge her with Arson in the First, she is drastically over-charged.  Class A felonies carry a minimum penalty of 20 years in prison.  That kind of conviction can, at the very least, eliminate your stripping career.  Ms. Anderson wouldn't be out until she was in her 40s if she was convicted of a Class A felony.  On the other hand, a Class D felony carries only 1-5 years.  She might even get the charge amended down and end up taking a misdemeanor with no jail time whatsoever.  Ms. Anderson could be back on the main stage before you could say "Thirty Dollars for a bucket of beers!!!  How do strip club owners sleep at night!?!?" 

2 comments:

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  2. justice has done been broughten

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