According to the law in the State of Florida, arson is the deliberate destruction of a structure that is caused by an explosion or fire and is generally classed as a serious criminal offense. The penalties charges that are associated with this crime will depend on the nature of each individual act, for example, how much damage was caused and how seriously a person may have been injured.
Whatever the circumstances of your arrest are, if you have been accused of committing arson resulting in injury, you will be set to face aggressive prosecution and will need legal representation immediately. This is because the only way to avoid a criminal conviction is to contest your charges in court. Here at The Law Place, we have a team of some of the best criminal defense lawyers in the state, and we can build a solid defense on your behalf.
Call today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. We are ready to take on your case.
What Does Florida Law Say About Arson?
The legal definition of arson resulting in injury can be found under Florida Statute 806.01. Arson is the “willful damage” to a structure by an explosion or a fire. This could have been a purposeful and targeted act or could have been caused during the commission of another crime. According to the Statute, a structure could be:
- A dwelling that is occupied or not.
- A structure where people are usually present.
- A structure that any person should reasonably know is occupied.
- Any building or enclosed area that has a roof that any reasonable person should have known may be occupied. It could also refer to any portable structures, such as a tent, vehicle, watercraft, or trailer.
Arson is closely linked to charges of “criminal mischief,” which is defined under Florida Statute 806.13 as the willful damage by any means to a property. Other examples of acts of criminal mischief include graffiti and other forms of vandalism. Charges will be assessed based on the degree of damage done.
Criminal Charges for Arson
Damage caused by criminal acts of arson can come in varying degrees. You might cause some minor damage to a building, or you could be held responsible for serious injury or even death. Therefore, it is difficult to assume what charges you could be facing, but in general, you could expect the following penalties for arson resulting in injury.
If you have been accused of arson, and this resulted in bodily harm to any person, including the firefighter who attended the scene of the crime, regardless of your intent or lack of intent to cause an injury, you will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Second-Degree Felony Arson
If you have been accused of arson, and this resulted in serious bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement of a person, or the firefighter who attended the scene of the crime, regardless of intent you, will be charged with a felony in the second degree. Intent does not have to be established.
If a death occurred as a result of the act of arson, the prosecutor could pursue first-degree felony charges.
In Florida, penalties for arson will always be very severe, no matter what the intent. Florida law states that you can be convicted on multiple arson charges, even those that relate to a single incident.
A criminal conviction will remain on your record and impact on your life. If you have been accused of arson resulting in injury, consult with a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Aggravated and Reckless Arson
If it is established that the intent of the arsonist was to harm another person, the degree of penalties of usual arson charges can be upgraded to charges of aggravated or reckless arson.
The prosecution will pursue these charges if there is evidence that the defendant had knowledge that someone was within the structure when the fire was started. The basis for aggravated arson charges is malicious and willing intent to guarantee that another person is injured because of your actions. The intent may not always be to physically injury someone. Your actions could be aggravated if you intended to cause serious financial, emotional, or other types of distress.
Arson of Your Own Property
There is no law against setting fire to your own property that you can prove you legally own, as long it was not for financial gain. For example, to make an insurance claim with your insurance company. However, if someone was injured or killed during the act, you will face other serious charges even if this was not your intention.
The Impact of a Felony Conviction
If you are facing felony charges in Clearwater, the consequences will haunt you for life. The state puts certain restrictions on felons, and you could have your basic civil rights stripped away from you. You would lose the right to:
- Sit on a jury.
- Possess or own a firearm.
Convicted felons are also faced with restricted access to certain areas of employment, such as hospitals, schools, childcare, finance, and law enforcement. An employer could automatically dismiss your application due to your felony conviction. It could also prevent you from re-training in certain professions such as teaching, medicine insurance, real estate, law, and from pursuing further education. You may even lose your current job and risk being unable to work in your chosen field ever again.
This is why you are advised to fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed by instructing a qualified criminal defense lawyer to fight the charges on your behalf.
Evidence Required for an Arson Resulting in Injury Conviction
To charge you with arson, the criminal prosecutor will be required to establish certain elements of proof. These elements could include forensic evidence, such as traces of ignitable fluids or explosives close to the assumed point of origin of the fire or explosion . The Florida Fire Marshal Bureau of Forensic Fire and Explosives Analysis (BFFEA) can analyze the residue from the fire and submit their findings to the court. A criminal defense attorney from our law firm will ensure that no evidence is tampered with or lost in this process and request access to all information from the forensic investigation.
Defenses Against Charges of Arson Resulting in Injury
An experienced criminal defense attorney from our law firm can determine the best defense for your individual case. Defenses that may be considered could include the following:
- Accidental fire damage – Intent plays a big part in determining your charges. To have them reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, your attorney may be able to argue that even though you did cause a fire, it was accidental, not deliberate.
- Inaccurate forensic analysis – If you have an experienced lawyer on your side who can thoroughly investigate the evidence presented against you, they may be able to question the forensic analysis of the fire and argue that it was flawed or biased. This could be enough to have your case dismissed.
- Mistaken identity – Your lawyer may be able to argue that you are not guilty of your charges and that this is a case of mistaken identity. Witness testimonies can be unreliable, and if they can be discredited, the judge may rule in your favor.
There are a number of defenses available to those who have been accused of arson resulting in injury, but they can only be pursued by an attorney who has experience defending clients in a criminal court.
Statute of Limitations for Arson in Florida
Like all crimes, there is a Statute of Limitations for the crime of arson. Once this time has passed, a conviction cannot be upheld. The limits are as follows:
- Two years – For arson resulting in minor injury according to Florida Statute 806.031. This includes any arson charge that is classified as a misdemeanor.
- Three years – For acts of arson classified as a second-degree felony.
- Four years – For acts of arson classified as a first-degree felony.
An attorney from our law firm can give you a more specific idea of the Statute of Limitations in your case and anything else concerning Florida law.
Why The Law Place Stands Out From Other Law Firms in Florida
The Law Place can offer the best legal support during the most difficult time in your life. Our law firm is known for an attorney-client relationship that is built on trust and understanding.
We dedicate ourselves to each of our clients and leave no stone unturned. Our lawyers work as a team using all of their combined knowledge and experience, so they can build the best possible defense for you.
Our firm is highly regarded because many of the lawyers on our team have an AVVO rating of 10.0, which is the highest possible rating. This rating is assessed by looking at client reviews, awards, trial skills, and length of practice.
Contact The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
Arson resulting in injury charges are taken very seriously in the State of Florida, and if you have been accused, it is important that you consult with a qualified lawyer straight away. Our criminal defense attorneys at The Law Place have extensive experience in defending criminal cases and have helped countless people facing similar charges to you. Some of our attorneys are former prosecutors, so they have inside knowledge of the legal maneuvers that may be used against you in court. Our team knows how to put together the best possible legal defense for your individual situation.
Choosing to instruct a criminal defense lawyer to take on your case will be the best decision you ever make. If you are facing expensive fines and a lengthy prison sentence, you should not go through it alone. Our legal support could mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. You might have been made to feel as though all the evidence is against you, but if you have the right criminal defense lawyer in your corner, anything is possible.
Don’t hesitate, contact us today at (941) 444-4444 to schedule your free consultation. There is never a bad time to call because our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.