When a commercial building, a house, or any other permanent structure is intentionally set on fire, it can cause a huge amount of damage. A lot of the time, this damage is just to the structure of the property or items contained inside, but in some instances, it can lead to serious personal injury or even death. When a person commits arson, they are putting the lives of many people at risk, including the occupants of a house or building, members of the fire department, and any responders to the scene. If you have been accused of or charged with committing arson and someone has suffered injury as a result, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Here at The Law Place, our attorneys have a huge amount of experience in multiple practice areas, including difficult criminal cases like arson resulting in injury. We offer a free consultation at our law firm where you can get some honest legal advice for your case. If you decide to choose us to defend your Punta Gorda arson case, a criminal defense attorney from our team will build a strong defense on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are protected.
Call our law firm today for a free consultation with a defense lawyer at (941) 444-4444. Our lines are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, for your convenience.
How Is Arson Defined in Punta Gorda, Florida?
Florida Statute 806.01 provides that a person who wilfully causes damage to any structure or building by an explosion or fire can be found guilty of arson. The type of buildings contained under the law include dwellings and permanent structures. The law defines a structure as any building that has a roof, an enclosed area, or a portable building, including boats and vehicles. If you start a fire and damage occurs to any structures surrounding the area, then you can also be charged with arson.
Florida Statute 806.031 criminalizes arson which results in personal injury to another person. This can be carried out “either illegally or during the commission of another felony.” Depending on whether the accused had the intent or not, they can be charged with either a first or second-degree felony. When deciding on a penalty, a court will look at the particular facts of the case, including the severity of the damage and injuries, the criminal history of the defendant, and how serious the crime was.
Degrees of Arson in Florida Law
There are a number of factors that will influence what charges are brought against someone accused of arson in the State of Florida. Arson is divided into different categories depending on the amount of damage, whether people were injured and what type of property was damaged. If you are accused of arson in Punta Gorda, Florida, you can be charged with either first or second-degree arson. If you have injured someone as a result of the attack, then you may face additional charges of arson resulting in injury.
Charges of first-degree arson will arise if it can be shown that you started the fire intentionally or if you started it whilst commissioning another felony. It must be shown that you caused damage to either:
- A dwelling – A residential building, including an apartment or a house. The law will have the same effect irrespective of whether there were people in the building at the time.
- A structure – This includes any building where people would normally be present, for example, a school, a hospital, or a church.
If you are convicted of arson in the first degree in Punta Gorda, Florida, this will be regarded as a first-degree felony under Florida law. The punishments for this are severe, and you could be looking at up to 30 years imprisonment in addition to up to $10,000 in fines. Having the assistance of a Punta Gorda criminal defense attorney could help you reduce any penalties you may face.
Any building or structure that is not mentioned under a first-degree felony will be included under a second-degree charge. This means that if you started a fire intentionally or whilst commissioning another felony on any other type of structure, you can be convicted of arson in the second degree. Second-degree arson also amounts to a second-degree felony. The penalties for a conviction of this nature in Punta Gorda, Florida, include fines of up to $10,000 in addition to up to 15 years imprisonment.
Arson Resulting in Injury
Under Florida law, you may face additional arson charges if someone suffered personal injury as a result of the attack. Arson resulting in injury charges can arise if someone was injured inside the structure or dwelling or if a responder to the scene, such as a firefighter, suffered injury as a result. The law does not require that you intended to hurt someone, and you can face first-degree misdemeanor charges regardless. Additional penalties for this include up to one year of incarceration in addition to extra fines.
In the event that an individual has sustained serious personal injury as a result of the attack, you could face an additional felony charge of the second degree. Serious injury can include permanent disfigurement, serious bodily injury, or a permanent disability. If you are convicted of this crime, you can face up to 15 years imprisonment in addition to a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
In Punta Gorda and throughout Florida, it is possible to be charged with any of these felonies separately. This means that you can be charged for both arson in the first or second degree in addition to a charge for arson resulting in injury for the same event. If you are in this situation, you should contact a Florida criminal defense attorney who can advise you on what your options are.
Defenses for Arson
If you have been accused of committing arson that resulted in injury to another person in Punta Gorda, Florida, there may be a number of defenses available to you. It is important that you have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you build a strong criminal defense. Some examples of defenses that may be available to you could include:
- Actual innocence – It may be the case that you are completely innocent of the charges brought against you. Under criminal law, it is necessary to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have an alibi or if it can be proven that you were wrongly identified at the scene, a lawyer can help you get your charges dropped completely.
- Lack of intent – In the State of Florida, in order to be convicted of arson in the first degree, it is necessary to prove that you intended to start the fire. When it can be proven that you lacked intent and that it was an accident, these charges will be dropped.
- Inaccurate forensic analysis – A criminal defense lawyer who is skilled in working with these cases will carry out a thorough investigation of the evidence brought against you. If they can show that the forensic analysis obtained at the scene in Punta Gorda is inaccurate, then you could have your charges reduced or dropped completely.
Depending on the particular facts of your case, an experienced lawyer will be able to build a strong criminal defense on your behalf. Penalties for arson causing injury to another person in Punta Gorda, Florida, can be severe and could impact the rest of your life. This is why it is important to have the backing of a criminal defense lawyer from our law firm. We possess the knowledge and experience necessary to fight for justice for you.
What a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Do for You in Punta Gorda, Florida
In criminal cases involving arson, the proceedings in court can become quite technical and complex. This is because courts in Punta Gorda will often have forensic analysts and arson examiners testifying what happened. In their testimonies, they will often discuss the fire in detail, including the cause, how quickly it spread, why it spread, and whether accelerants were used. In the absence of a criminal defense lawyer, it can be difficult to argue against experienced analysts and examiners. A lawyer can use their skill to question the examiner’s credibility, dismiss any conclusions they’ve come to, and discount any assumptions they’ve made.
In addition to this, suspect identification plays a major role in many arson convictions. Under Florida law, if the accused cannot be properly identified as the culprit, they cannot be convicted. A skilled lawyer will try to poke holes in the prosecution’s story by finding that the identification was unlawful or suggestive. In doing this, a lawyer may be able to secure a dismissal of your case in Punta Gorda.
Contact The Law Place Today
In Punta Gorda, arson resulting in injury is regarded as a serious crime. If you or someone you know has been accused of this crime, it is vital that you get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Here at The Law Place, our law firm has over 75 years of combined experience in multiple practice areas, including arson involving injury cases. We have built up a great attorney-client relationship, and we ensure confidentiality every step of the way. Once you call us for a free consultation, we will give you legal advice on how best to proceed.
If you decide that we are the right law firm to represent you in your criminal case in Punta Gorda, we will assign you an experienced lawyer who will investigate the case on your behalf. They will fight tooth and nail to reduce or abolish any charges brought against you and to ensure that you are treated fairly. We want to protect your future by minimizing the chances of a conviction. The sooner you call us, the better your chances of winning will be.
Call us at The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444 for your free consultation in Punta Gorda. Our lines are open 24/7.