Starting a Bush Fire

Intentionally causing a bush fire is an offence and will be categorised as Arson.  



Section 203E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states:

‘A person who intentionally causes a fire, and who is reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on any public land or on land belonging to another is guilty of an offence’.

Recklessness may also be established by proof of intention.

however, a firefighter or acting under the direction of a firefighter, or a person who caused the fire during bushfire fighting or hazard reduction operations will not be guilty of this offence.

The offence is also found in the Rural Fires Act 1997 (NSW) under s 100 whereby a 5 year imprisonment term is applicable and/or a fine of 1000 penalty units.

1 penalty unit = $110 thus 1000 x $110.00 = $110,000.00 maximum fine.


Maximum/Possible Penalties

Causing a fire can lead to a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) or up to 14 years (If heard in the District Court).

Please note these penalties are reserved for the worst kind of offending and are unlikely to be what you would receive.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for intentionally causing a bush fire of:

  • Full time Imprisonment
  • Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
  • Community Correction Order (CCO)
  • Conditional release Order (CRO) (ie: bond); and/or
  • Fine



Since Starting a Bush Fire offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution. The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt being:

  • You intentionally caused the fire; and
  • You were reckless as to the spread of the fire to vegetation on any public land or on land belonging to another (resulting in a bush fire)

Note: The spread of the fire can be established simply by proof of intention.



Some of the possible defences available for those charged with Starting a Bush Fire can include;

  • You are a firefighter or were acting under direction of a firefighter and caused the fire in the course of bushfire fighting or hazard reduction;
  • If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue "Duress";
  • If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of "Necessity"; Or
  • If you were defending yourself or another OR yours or another’s property you may have a Defence of Self-Defence.



For Starting a Bush Fire, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® offers the following options:

  1. We initiate negotiation with prosecutors (police/DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) and plead to withdrawal or downgrade of the charge or alternatively, seek amendments to the police fact sheets or documents.
  2. At the hearing/trial, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® shall if you so instruct Plead Not Guilty and drive the argument based on prosecution’s inability to prove the elements of their accusation.
  3. Alternatively, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® may plead guilty on your instructions however, the hearing shall revolve around the facts with an objective to obtain a moderate or minimum punishment.
  4. Lastly, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® on your instructions enter a plea of guilt where you accept all the charges pressed by the police, but we present a case so solid on your behalf, with an objective to persuade and convince the Court to not record a criminal conviction against you.

For further information on your choices at law click on (CHOICES AT LAW tab on our website)



There are several reasons to engage Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers®:

  •  We are always in your corner

At Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® we understand the gravity of a criminal charge on your reputation. Thus, we work with the utmost diligence and fervour to restore any dints to our client’s repute. We fight for your rights and liberty earnestly, and for the best results, irrespective of the intensity of the matter. All these factors have made us known in the industry as always being in our client’s corner. 

  •  We bring about excellent results

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® is driven by positive outcomes and defend your case with skills which have been sharpened by years of experience. You will be dealing with lawyers who are proficient at their craft and will defend your case with rigour and an aim to have the matter withdrawn, downgraded, dismissed or the minimal penalty available at law imposed.

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are adept in all forms of advocacy and will present your case in the most skilful manner in Court. 

  • Your case will be in the hands of an experienced lawyer

Irrespective of your decision in deciding the course of the case, you will be supported and guided by Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® who have been in the provision of legal service for over 21 years. 

If you are caught up in this charge our team at Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are best suited for representing your case.

Please contact our office on 0419 998 398 or 0492 857 721 or email for more information. The first consultation is free.


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