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VIDEO: Man Sets Homeowner’s Flag On Fire While Family Slept, Faces Possible Felony.

Andrew Rosas was strolling through a Richmond, Virginia neighborhood when he saw something he didn’t like. Rosas, 26, couldn’t stand seeing an American flag hung on a pole erected on someone’s front door, so he tried to tear it down. When it didn’t work, he probably put a lighter to the flag and strolled away, believing he was protected by the First Amendment.

Rosas, sadly, was wrong. When the homeowner, James Tanner, awoke the following morning to find out what had happened to his personal belongings, he was not going to let it go. Tanner, instead instantly reviewed his security camera video. He noticed a clear picture of the guilty party’s face on the camera tape. Rosas was quickly plastered all over the press and the internet. Yet that wasn’t the firebug’s biggest concern.

Rosas’ fault was not simply being captured on tape during his anti-patriotic outburst. His spontaneous protest did, in fact, put him in prison. He knew he wasn’t going to get away with his spontaneous act of disobedience when the footage of him trying to tear down the flag and then burning it on fire went throughout the internet. Rosas had no option but to submit to the authorities. He was promptly detained and charged with arson, and authorities handed him some harsh legal lessons.

First and foremost, burning a flag with malice is illegal in Virginia and may result in a misdemeanor criminal conviction. But it isn’t all. As Rosas quickly discovered, although burning an American flag is protected by the First Amendment as free expression under certain conditions, it does not grant you the right to burn someone else’s flag. It is the annihilation of private property. Moreover, attempting to burn it when it is hanging on someone’s porch may be deemed arson.

To Andrew Rosas’ surprise, he may be charged with a crime for what he has done. According to Todd Stone, a legal expert for CBS 6, the fact that the flag was burned while affixed to the property might land the vandal in significant legal problems. Worse, the fire was started at night, when innocent individuals were sleeping inside. It makes it a far more severe infraction since it could catch fire and endanger the individuals inside, Stone said.

Homeowner James Tanner agrees and is extremely worried that the fire may have spread to his house while his family was sleeping, putting their lives in danger. This is vandalism, and you have someone who completely disregards the safety of the people around, he said, adding that the conduct also completely disregards what the flag symbolizes. Tanner is correct, irrespective matter how one feel about someone’s right to protest. If one is going to burn anything, it had better be ones own. Ones activities should not endanger the life of others.

Tanner claims that since the flag was constructed of synthetic materials, it just melted. It didn’t make the tragedy any less disturbing for the neighbors, who could see the burnt flagpole still connected to the home as a reminder of what might have occurred. The whole front porch had the potential to catch fire. His home may have caught fire now that he knows it was one of his neighbors. So that might have been a pretty horrible scenario, said Joseph Lawson, a neighbor. One has to understand how contentious it is, whether he’s protesting or not.

Anyone with basic common sense understands that setting fire to anything connected to a house while the residents are sleeping inside is a risky act. Worse, Rosas went away without understanding the outcome of his actions. If the whole house had caught fire, no one would have known until it was too late for the family. This isn’t simply complete insanity. It’s a complete disregard for the safety of others since they have a distinct point of view on anything. It is not just intolerable but also dishonorable.

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