uthouse having hay or grain therein; any barrack, rick or stack of hay, grain, or bark; any public building, church or meeting-house, college, school or library. (Arson, lectlaw, n.d).
Chapter 806.01 of the Florida Statutes, considers a person guilty of arson if that person wilfully and unlawfully or while in the commission of a felony by fire or explosion damages or causes to be damaged any structure, or structure in which people are usually present for example – jails, prisons, hospitals, department stores, offices, churches, educational institutions, during the time when these are occupied as also, the damaging by these means of any structure which this person knows is occupied. Such a person is deemed to be guilty of arson in the first degree. This constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable as per the provisions of sections 775.082, 775.083 or 775.084. These Statutes further, state that a person who commits an act of arson which results in physical harm to any other person, irrespective of intent to cause such harm, is considered to be guilty of misdemeanour of the first degree. This is punishable under sections 775.082 and 775.083. (The 2005 Florida Statutes n.d). According to this definition intent is not an important criterion in deciding whether a person is guilty of arson or not. In the case under consideration the accused agreed that he had applied a flame to the canvas litters. He stated that he did this to determine whether the canvas litters were fire proof or not.
Though he had no intention of causing harm to anyone or any property he wilfully started the fire. As per the Statutes he is guilty of arson. As a consequence of this fire one person died due to asphyxiation while others were injured. In view of the above, John Notthink is guilty of arson of the first degree and is punishable under sections 775.082, 775.083 and 775.084 for first degree arson, which is a felony of the first degree. To prove an arson charge it is sufficient if it