Intentionally or Recklessly Causing a Bushfire
– section 201A of the Crimes Act 1958
Intentionally or Recklessly Causing a Bushfire is when you light a bushfire and the fire gets out of control. Or you light a bushfire and do nothing to prevent it from spreading.
Examples of Intentionally or Recklessly Causing a Bushfire
- Friends are camping in the bush, they make a fire and the fire gets out of control.
- A man deliberately sets fire to vegetation on his neighbours farm.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Intentionally or Recklessly Causing a Bushfire?
- You did not light a bush fire.
- The fire was lit legally during fire prevention or land management.
- You lit the fire, but the circumstances were so extraordinary that you were not reckless.
There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.
Questions in cases like this
- Did you light a fire that got out of control?
- Was someone else supervising the fire?
Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge
The maximum penalty for this offence is level 4 imprisonment (15 years).
This charge may be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court.
“Did you cause a bushfire?”
What is the legal definition of Intentionally or Recklessly Causing a Bushfire?
The Prosecution must show that you intentionally or recklessly caused a bushfire, and were reckless as to the spread of the fire.
The section that covers this offence is section 201A of the Crimes Act 1958.1
What can you be sentenced to for this charge?
Intentionally or recklessly causing a bushfire is a serious offence that could mean you serve a prison term, if found guilty. However, your sentence will depend on the extent of the damage caused by the bushfire and the circumstances surrounding your actions.
 Crimes Act 1958 – Section 201A
(a) intentionally or recklessly causes a fire; and
(b) is reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on property belonging to another—
is guilty of an offence and liable to level 4 imprisonment (15 years maximum).
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b), circumstances in which a person is not to be taken to be reckless as to the spread of a fire include the following—
(a) the person caused the fire in the course of carrying out a fire prevention, fire suppression or other land management activity; and
(b) at the time the activity was carried out—
(i) there was in force a provision made by or under an Act or by a Code of Practice approved under an Act, that regulated or otherwise applied to the carrying out of the activity and the person in carrying out that activity acted in accordance with the provision; and
(ii) the person believed that his or her conduct in carrying out the activity was justified having regard to all of the circumstances.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(b)(ii) it is sufficient that a person honestly believed that the conduct was justified.
(4) In this section—
(a) a reference to causing a fire includes—
(i) lighting a fire;
(ii) maintaining a fire;
(iii) 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;
(b) spread of the fire means spread of the fire beyond the capacity of the person who caused the fire to extinguish it.