TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 5 - ARSON
Sec. 81. Arson within special maritime and territorial jurisdiction
Whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction
of the United States, willfully and maliciously sets fire to or
burns any building, structure or vessel, any machinery or building
materials or supplies, military or naval stores, munitions of war,
or any structural aids or appliances for navigation or shipping, or
attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be imprisoned for
not more than 25 years, fined the greater of the fine under this
title or the cost of repairing or replacing any property that is
damaged or destroyed, or both.
If the building be a dwelling or if the life of any person be
placed in jeopardy, he shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 688; Pub. L. 103-322, title
XXXIII, Sec. 330016(1)(H), (K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147;
Pub. L. 104-132, title VII, Sec. 708(b), Apr. 24, 1996, 110 Stat.
1296; Pub. L. 107-56, title VIII, Secs. 810(a), 811(a), Oct. 26,
2001, 115 Stat. 380, 381.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Secs. 464, 465 (Mar. 4,
1909, ch. 321, Secs. 285, 286, 35 Stat. 1144).
Sections were consolidated and rewritten both as to form and
substance and that part of each section relating to destruction of
property by means other than burning constitutes section 1363 of
The words "within the maritime and territorial jurisdiction of
the United States" were added to preserve existing limitations of
territorial applicability. (See section 7 of this title and note
The phrase "any building, structure, or vessel, any machinery or
building materials and supplies, military or naval stores,
munitions of war or any structural aids or appliances for
navigation or shipping" was substituted for "any dwelling house, or
any store, barn, stable, or other building, parcel of a dwelling
house", in section 464 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., and "any
arsenal, armory, magazine, rope walk, ship house, warehouse,
blockhouse, or barrack, or any storehouse, barn or stable, not
parcel of a dwelling house, or any other building not mentioned in
the section last preceding, or any vessel, built, building, or
undergoing repair, or any lighthouse, or beacon, or any machinery,
timber, cables, rigging, or other materials or appliances for
building, repairing or fitting out vessels, or any pile of wood,
boards, or other lumber, or any military, naval or victualing
stores, arms, or other munitions of war", in section 465 of title
18, U.S.C., 1940 ed. The substituted phrase is a concise and
comprehensive description of the things enumerated in both
The punishment provisions are new and are graduated with some
regard to the gravity of the offense. It was felt that a possible
punishment of 20 years for burning a wood pile or injuring or
destroying an outbuilding was disproportionate and not in harmony
with recent legislation.
2001 - Pub. L. 107-56, in first par., struck out ", or attempts
to set fire to or burn" after "maliciously sets fire to or burns"
and inserted "or attempts or conspires to do such an act," before
"shall be imprisoned" and, in second par., substituted "for any
term of years or for life" for "not more than twenty years".
1996 - Pub. L. 104-132, in first par., substituted "imprisoned
for not more than 25 years, fined the greater of the fine under
this title or the cost of repairing or replacing any property that
is damaged or destroyed, or both" for "fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than five years, or both".
1994 - Pub. L. 103-322 substituted "fined under this title" for
"fined not more than $1,000" in first par. and for "fined not more
than $5,000" in second par.
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