Deliberately using fire or explosives, such as fireworks, for destructive purposes is known as arson. It is not uncommon for arson to be charged alongside other criminal offenses, such as insurance fraud or murder. In less serious cases, arson is still a criminal offense that can land a convicted defendant in jail and facing other penalties. If you have been charged with arson in Florida, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop a legal defense strategy for your case.
Penalties for Arson in Florida
How an incidence of alleged arson is charged in Florida depends on the circumstances of the case. At its core, arson is defined as the act of willfully or unlawfully damaging a structure with fire or an explosion. A structure is defined as a dwelling and its contents, whether it is occupied or not, a structure where people are known to reside or use, or any building or structure that is known or should be known to be occupied.
When a structure such as those listed above is damaged by an act of arson, the alleged offender may be charged with a first degree felony. The penalties for this are a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 30 years in prison.
Arson can also be charged as a second degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This can occur when the individual allegedly caused damage to a structure through fire or explosion during the commission of a felony offense other than first degree arson.
Possible Defenses to an Arson Charge
If you are charged with arson, you can defend your case with a criminal defense lawyer’s help. A few examples of defense strategies that can be effective against arson charges include:
- The fire was started legally, such as a campfire, and grew out of control to become destructive;
- The defendant did not intentionally start the fire or cause the explosion in order to cause bodily harm or destruction to a structure;
- There is a lack of evidence to prove that the defendant was responsible for the fire or explosion or that he or she willfully, intentionally caused it to occur; and
- At his or her arrest, the defendant’s civil rights were violated in some way.
Your lawyer can help you determine the most effective strategy for your case.
Work with an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with arson, you are facing steep criminal penalties. Work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop an effective legal defense strategy for your case, which can potentially lead to your charge being lowered or even dismissed completely. Contact our team at All Criminal Defense Law Group, P.A. today at 813-672-1900 to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our firm, during which we can examine your case in greater detail to determine the right strategy for you.