South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Before You Burn Your House Down, Make Sure Your Insurance Is Current
Description The North Dakota high court upheld the conviction of a couple for conspiracy to commit arson for the purpose of collecting insurance money on their house. The fact that their insurance had expired did not affect the conviction since they burned the house down and then attempted to collect insurance money.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Insurance Fraud, Arson
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Becirajs were convicted of conspiracy to commit arson for the purpose of collecting insurance for the loss. Evidence was provided that convinced the jury that the couple burned down their house to collect insurance money. They did not know until after the fire that their insurance policy had lapsed, so they could not collect. They appealed that they could not be convicted since they did not have insurance.
Decision

Affirmed. Sufficient evidence was presented at trial to support a conviction for arson. The couple believed their home was insured; they did not learn until after the fire that the policy had expired. To be convicted of conspiracy to commit arson for the purpose of collecting insurance requires only that the actor start a fire with intent to destroy his property for the purpose of collecting. There is no requirement that there actually be insurance.

Citation State v. Beciraj, --- N.W.2d --- (2003 WL 22674221, Sup. Ct., N.D., 2003)

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