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A, a law student, is anxious about her upcoming final exams. The exams begin in two days, but due to a longtime procrastination habit A has been unable to kick, she has not started studying yet. In a desperate attempt to buy herself some time, she decides to burn down the law school.
To that end, A brings flammable material and matches with her to the law school, and she sneaks into the law school basement through a door left unlocked. She puts down her materials and lights up a cigarette to celebrate her ingenious plan before she puts it into action. As she’s lighting her cigarette, she hears a noise, so she reflexively drops the match and the cigarette on the floor. The now-lit cigarette falls on top of the flammable material and ignites it. A quickly runs away from the building, making no effort to put out the fire or alert the fire department. The entire law school is destroyed in the resulting fire.
In a common-law jurisdiction, A is arrested and charged with arson. Arson is defined as “starting a fire on a property and intentionally placing the property in danger of damage or destruction.” In this jurisdiction, “intentionally” is defined as “possessing a conscious objective to engage in the prohibited conduct or cause the prohibited result.”
Assume the prosecution could prove the above facts at A’s trial. Also assume that this jurisdiction does not have a Good Samaritan statute that requires people to act in order to prevent arson.