You are here

8.1 Arson or Attempted Arson

Printer-friendly version


The defendant is charged in [Count _______ of] the indictment with [attempted] arson in violation of Section 81 of Title 18 of the United States Code. In order for the defendant to be found guilty of that charge, the government must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

First, the defendant [[intentionally set fire to or burned] [intended to set fire to or burn]] [specify building];

Second, [specify building] was located on [specify place of federal jurisdiction]; [and]

Third, the defendant acted wrongfully and without justification[.] [; and]

[Fourth, the defendant did something that was a substantial step toward committing the crime.

Mere preparation is not a substantial step toward committing the crime. To constitute a substantial step, a defendant’s act or actions must demonstrate that the crime will take place unless interrupted by independent circumstances.]

[If you decide that the defendant is guilty, you must then decide whether the government has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that [the building was regularly used by people as a place in which to live and sleep] [a person’s life was placed in jeopardy].]


If the charge is conspiracy to commit the crime, use Instruction 8.2 (Conspiracy to Commit Arson).

As to the second element of the instruction regarding federal jurisdiction, "special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 7. While federal jurisdiction over the place may be determined as a matter of law, the locus of the offense within that place is an issue for the jury. United States v. Gipe, 672 F.2d 777, 779 (9th Cir.1982).

For an attempt to commit the crime, jurors do not need to agree unanimously as to which particular act or actions constituted a substantial step toward the commission of a crime. United States v. Hofus, 598 F.3d 1171, 1176 (9th Cir.2010).