Arson is a criminal offense that occurs when a person starts a fire or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage…
•A building, habitation, or vehicle knowing it is:
within the city limits; insured against damage; subject to a mortgage; located on property of another/containing property of another; recklessly endangering another person’s life/property
•Any vegetation fence or structure on open-space land
Additionally, you could be charged with arson if you start a campfire or play with fireworks in a dry area (with knowledge of potential danger or when a burn ban is in effect) and the fire causes damage.
A forensic analysis will generally prove whether a fire is arson or an accidental fire, but arson charges are rare since fires are seldom started when there are eyewitnesses around. Cases can be highly circumstantial, so you need access to the best experts available. Additionally, the prosecuting office will use every resource available to find motives such as insurance fraud or hate crimes.
Defenses Against Arson Charges
Defense attorney Justin Sparks takes the time to examine the full facts of your case with a broad knowledge of the legal defenses that can protect you from indictment.
Defenses against arson include the following:
The burning of open-space land was controlled
The burning was pursuant to a permit obtained in accordance with a city ordinance
The fire was the result of an accident such as an electrical shortage
There is insufficient evidence to prove your involvement
It is not a defense that the fire went out after ignition; the act is complete when the fire is started.
What is the Punishment for Arson?
Arson is generally a second degree felony with a punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison. The punishment is elevated to a first degree felony with punishment of 5 to 99 years in prison if bodily injury or death was suffered by another or if the property was a habitation or a place of assembly or worship. Burning vegetation, a fence or a structure on open-space land is a state jail felony with punishment of six months to two years in state jail. All arson cases carry an additional fine of up to $10,000.
Charged with Arson? Call Justin!
If you have been charged with committing arson, contact the Sparks Law Firm to help you establish your defense and protect your rights. Call (817) 334-0300 for a free, confidential consultation with top defense attorney Justin Sparks (as selected by Fort Worth magazine 2010-2012, 2014-2016).
Justin Sparks has been defending clients across Fort Worth and Dallas for over ten years. Our firm helps you through the criminal process, from investigation to appeals, if need be. Free consultations for all new cases.