In the State of Florida, arson is considered an extremely dangerous and serious matter. A crime of arson in the first degree involves deliberately starting a fire in a dwelling or a location where people are usually present during a set period of business working hours. However, the prosecutor on your case must prove that you were aware of- or that you should have known – that there was a person occupying the structure or dwelling.
If you have been charged with committing an act of arson in the first-degree, then you will be facing severe consequences for your actions. The prosecutor on your case has to prove that you caused damage to a structure or its contents by intentionally lighting a fire, according to Florida Statute 806.01.
It is essential that you reach out and contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Sarasota. Otherwise, you will be facing harsh penalties for arson in the first degree on your own. At The Law Place, we have over seventy-five years of collective experience in managing and defending violent crimes and arson charges for clients in Sarasota and across the State of Florida. Our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys has a wealth of knowledge and the necessary skills to investigate your case and defend you in court.
It is important for you to be aware that the most serious arson cases usually involve a fatality, severe injury of an innocent person, or injury to a firefighter or other person who is trained to respond in emergency situations. Most cases of arson in the first degree are based on the circumstances and details of the evidence.
If you face charges for arson in the first degree, you could be held in custody without a bond or possibly granted an extremely high bail. A skilled lawyer from The Law Place will be able to fight your arson charges, even if your case involved property damage, fire, or explosion.
We are available 24/7 so contact our law firm now for a free consultation, and we will fight for your rights together.
Crime Classifications in Florida
In Florida, crimes are categorized into two main degrees: felonies and misdemeanors. Each degree of crime carries different levels of severity and potential penalties. Here is a brief list of the degrees of crimes in Florida:
- Capital Felony – The most severe degree of felony., punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole.
- Life Felony: Punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
- First-Degree Felony – Punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony – Punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-Degree Felony – Punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- First-Degree Misdemeanor – Punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor – Punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
- Non-Criminal Violations – These are not considered crimes and typically involve civil infractions, such as traffic violations, with fines but no jail time.
Specific penalties may vary based on the circumstances of the crime, prior criminal history, and other factors. Additionally, there may be enhancements or reductions in penalties depending on the nature of the offense and whether it is a repeat offense.
Regardless of the type of crime, if convicted, you will be left with a criminal record that could have a lasting impact on your life, including your ability to find work, a home, and travel. It is essential to have the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible so that they have enough time to build the strongest possible defense and protect your rights throughout the process, from the pre-trial investigation to the trial and beyond.
Degrees of Arson in Florida
In the State of Florida, arson is recognized as being in the first or second degree. A second-degree charge of arson tends to be less serious than a charge in the first-degree.
First-degree arson involves damage occurring in a dwelling or a structure as a result of a fire or explosion. If you are not aware, a ‘dwelling’ refers to a building, regardless if it is occupied or not. A ‘structure’ refers to a building where there are people present during a set period of business working hours.
A ‘structure’ is defined as “any enclosed area with a roof over it,” e.g., any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft, as well as any building or even a tent. However, it is worth noting that penalties will be further increased if damage occurs in a ‘structure’ such as a school, religious place, office building, healthcare facility, hospital, or prison.
Second-degree arson is normally not as serious as a first-degree arson, and it typically involves a structure where people are not usually present after business hours, such as a storage facility.
A case of first-degree arson tends to be committed when a person uses the destructive nature of fire or explosives to unlawfully cause damage or uses them in the act of committing another felony. The act of arson could involve damages to a place such as:
- A dwelling (whether it is occupied or not).
- A structure (where people are normally present during business hours).
- Other structures that the criminal is aware of could be occupied by people.
A case of second-degree arson tends to be committed when a person uses the destructive nature of fire or explosives to unlawfully cause damage to any other property that is not listed in a first-degree arson.
If you are being charged with arson in the first degree, you will need all the help you can get. The Law Place assists clients across the State of Florida fight their penalties for arson. A skilled criminal lawyer from our firm will be able to talk you through the process, explain all the details to you, and fight to achieve a reasonable outcome for your case. Reach out and contact us now for a free consultation.
Potential Penalties Associated With Arson in Florida
If you are convicted of committing an act of arson in the first-degree, then your penalties will typically depend on the circumstances and details surrounding your crime in the State of Florida. It is worth noting that you could be facing up to thirty years in prison for your crime. In addition, you will receive a fine of up to $10,000. However, if your crime resulted in a personal injury or damage to another human being, then the penalties will be much higher. If this is not your first offense, then most likely, your fines and consequences will be ten times more serious.
If you are convicted for committing an act of arson in the second degree, then your penalties could involve facing up to fifteen years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. However, your penalties will be increased if a personal injury or damages to another person occurred. For example, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of income as a result of your crime.
Potential Defenses to Arson in Florida
A team of skilled criminal defense attorneys from The Law Place will be able to build a strong defense on your behalf. However, your case will heavily depend on the circumstances and details surrounding your crime. A skilled lawyer from our firm will know all the right angles to argue your case in front of the court. A list of possible defense strategies include:
- Actual innocence – You were wrongfully accused, as you were not the person who committed the act of arson. The eyewitnesses at the scene were mistaken about your identity.
- Defense alibi – If you did not commit the act of arson, then your lawyer will prove your alibi in front of the court.
- You lacked the intent to commit an act of arson – In order to be convicted for a crime of arson in the first degree, it has to be proved that you deliberately started the fire, without any regard to human life, the consequences, or the property damage.
- An accident – You admit to causing the fire, but it was an honest accident, and it wasn’t a deliberate act of arson.
- Evidence – Your lawyer will argue against the evidence that the police officers presented in court. It may have been obtained through an unlawful search and seizure attempt.
- Breakdown – If there was no evidence of the destruction, then your lawyer will break down the prosecutor’s case.
- Permission – If you have evidence to prove that you had the authority to start the fire, such as a permit for clearing the land, then give evidence of this to your lawyer, who will defend your case in court.
An experienced lawyer from our law firm in Sarasota, Florida, will handle all the details of your case and ensure that you are not unreasonably charged for your crime. Our team of skilled defense attorneys will investigate your case, gather evidence to support you, and narrow down the best options to defend you in court. Even if your arson case involved personal injury or property damage, we would fight for your rights together. Call us now for a free consultation, and we will support you every step of the way.
Getting the Help You Need After Being Charged With Arson in the First Degree in Florida
If you have been charged with an act of arson in the first degree, then you need to take your case seriously. This will show that you are taking responsibility for your actions, and it will also reflect well on your character in front of the judge and jury. In addition, it is essential that you hire a skilled lawyer to represent you in court, as they will also take your case just as seriously.
At The Law Place, we have over seventy-five years of combined experience and knowledge in defending violent crimes and arson cases in Sarasota County and across the State of Florida. Our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys considers an honest attorney-client relationship to be of great value and importance. We understand the pressure of the consequences that you might be facing, and we want to help you with your case every step of the way.
Our team of highly trained Florida criminal attorneys knows how to handle cases related to violent crimes and arson charges in the first-degree. A knowledgeable lawyer from our firm will give you some honest legal advice on the next move you should make during a free consultation.
If you decide to be represented by our reputable law firm, then our team of skilled attorneys will conduct an in-depth investigation of your case, gather the facts, and work out how to build the best defense to present in front of the court. We will do everything in our power to defend your case and minimize your penalties in the State of Florida.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and call The Law Place now. We are aware of your offense’s critical nature, and we will fight for the reasonable outcome of your case. Contact us now for a free consultation with a Sarasota arson in the first-degree lawyer.