Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut
20 Conn. 245 (1850)
This was an information for setting fire to and burning a dwelling-house. The prisoner
on which issue the cause was tried, at
On the trial, it appeared, that the building burned was built by
, and designed
for a dwelling-house; was constructed in the usual manner of a dwelling-house, in all particulars; and
was finished, except that it was not painted, as it was intended to be, and the glass was not set in the
sash which had been placed in the upper half of one of the outer doors. The building stood by itself,
and was not appurtenant to any other building; but it had not been occupied.
Upon these facts the prisoner's counsel claimed, and asked the court to instruct the jury, that
the prisoner could not be convicted. The court did not so instruct the jury; but left the question
whether the building was a dwelling-house, for their determination, as a matter of fact.
The jury found the prisoner
and he thereupon moved for a new trial.
Church, Ch. J.
The statute of this state prescribes the punishment of arson, but it does not define the crime.
We look to the common law for its definition.
Arson, by the common law, is the wilful and malicious burning of the house of another. The
, as here understood, includes not merely the dwelling-house, but all out-houses which
are parcel thereof. 1
, 570. 4
. 221. 2
Russ. on Crimes
This information charges the accused with burning a dwelling-house, and the question in the
case, is, whether the building, which was in fact burned by him, was a dwelling-house, within the
meaning of the common law on this subject? That it was a dwelling-house, as distinguished from
a building of any other kind, is certain.
The building is described to be one built and designed for a dwelling-house, constructed in
the usual manner. It was designed to be painted, but was not yet finished, in that respect, and not
quite all the glass were set in one of the outer doors. The building had never been occupied, and it
was not parcel nor an appurtenant of any other.