Arson is a serious criminal offense and defending against arson charges is quite challenging. Typically, arson involves deliberately setting fire to certain property, such as a home or vehicle. Since arson incidents have high chances of causing injury or death, it’s considered a serious crime. It gets even more complicated when it appears there is a motive such as insurance or revenge for some reason.
There are certain factors specified by the state or federal law that the prosecution must establish in order to successfully convict the defendant. The charges in the case depend on the degrees for this crime. This involves considering factors such as whether it was a residential building where people were present at the time of the crime and whether the motive was monetary settlements from the coverage for fire damage. Quite often, the purpose of committing arson is linked to insurance fraud. Typically, when the value of the property is much lower than the insured amount, homeowners set the property to fire in hope of receiving the insurance proceeds from the fire.
Whether arson involves purposely setting fire to the property of someone else or one’s own for financial gain, allegations once brought, are difficult to rebut. As such, considering the implications of arson charges, the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney and good fire investigator becomes indispensable.
Punishments for Arson
The punishment and penalties of arson charges depend on the type and severity of arson. The degree of punishment also depends on the state that may have different laws for arson. This is to say, if the case involves setting fire on an occupied dwelling, it would be more serious than one of an empty dwelling. Minor cases which are not serious in nature result in punishments such as a short jail stay or probation. On the other hand, if the arson caused death or injury, the punishment would even be a death penalty or life imprisonment. Also, when the adjacent buildings also get affected, the punishment is likely to get stricter.
Investigating arson case is completely different than other crimes. This is because determining the origin and cause of fire requires enhanced scientific knowledge of how fires react. The fire investigator will identify the evidence and will make use of lab results to show what agents were used to inciting the fire. The fire patterns and the detection of certain liquids like gasoline indicate that the fire was intentionally set. The origin of fire helps law enforcement officers in determining the potential motives of why someone would intentionally cause such damage. For successfully defending the case, a criminal defense lawyer who has knowledge of arson cases is also crucial. In case of an accidental fire, an experienced lawyer can cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses to challenge that proper scientific methods were not followed in the investigation to support their client’s case.
Defending Arson Charges
The complexity of arson cases makes them difficult to defend. However, a lawyer who is experienced in arson cases will know how to build a strong case for you. Even if the prosecution has evidence and motive, there are some factors that can assist you in defending against these problems. You will need to collect ample evidence on the defensive such as witnesses and a solid alibi backed by others. Sometimes, law enforcement or insurance adjusters miss out important factors while investigating the scene. As such, it makes sense to hire fire and arson investigators to identify the actual cause of the fire. You may also provide evidence that suggests a conspiracy of another party against you in order to harm someone specific in the family. Therefore, to effectively refute the charges and avoid a conviction, it is essential to have both an experienced criminal defense lawyer and a fire investigator with knowledge and expertise.