Over 35,000 arson offenses are committed each year, according to Statista, and law enforcement and prosecutors are always eager to severely punish those charged with arson. If you were involved in any way with the burning of a home, building, vehicle, or other type of structure, or even involved in the prevention of the fire being extinguished, you are in danger of being charged with arson. Even if you were not involved, if you have been arrested, you need to speak with an experienced Port St. Lucie arson defense attorney immediately. Arson is a serious felony, and depending on the circumstances, you could be facing anywhere from five to 30 years in prison.
Definition of Arson, Dwelling, and Structure
Under Chapter 806, arson is defined as the willful and unlawful damage to a dwelling or structure by fire or explosion. A dwelling is any type of home, including houses, motels, apartments, condominiums, RVs, or any other place designed for a person to spend the night. A structure is any type of building with an enclosed area with a roof over it, including tents and portable buildings.
First Degree Felony Arson
It is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $10,000, to cause damage by fire or explosion to:
- A dwelling, whether it is occupied or not, or the dwelling’s contents;
- A structure where people are normally present during normal business hours; or
- A structure that the offender knew was occupied by a human being, or had reason to believe was occupied.
Second Degree Felony Arson
A second degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Second degree felony arson occurs in the following circumstances:
- Causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a firefighter or any other person, whether intentionally or not, by committing arson.
Third Degree Felony Arson
A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Third degree felony arson involves the following:
- Intentionally and maliciously damaging or interfering with any fire extinguishing tools and equipment, such as alarms or hydrants,
- Intentionally interferes, assaults, or hinders a firefighter while putting extinguishing a fire;
- Possessing, transporting, making, or disposing of a fire bomb with intent that the bomb will be used to commit arson; and
- As a minor, causing a certain amount of damage to various types of property.
First Degree Misdemeanor
A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail. First degree misdemeanor arson includes:
- Causing any bodily injury to a firefighter or any other person, whether intentionally or not, by committing arson;
- Commits a false fire alarm (a second conviction is a third degree felony).
Call a Port St. Lucie Arson Defense Lawyer Now
All arson charges should be taken very seriously. Moreover, you can be charged with more than one offense for just a single burn event. For example, you could be charged with first degree arson for allegedly setting a public building on fire, a second degree felony for causing great bodily harm, and multiple first degree misdemeanors for causing bodily harm, such as smoke inhalation. You need an experienced Port St. Lucie criminal lawyer on your side. Call Baginski Brandt & Brandt today at 772-466-0707 to schedule a free consultation.