Arson can be defined as the malicious or intentional burning of a house, structure, or dwelling of another and is considered to be a very serious crime in the State of Florida. Punishments for arson may include hefty fines, a permanent criminal record, and even time behind bars. The penalties that you may face for committing arson that resulted in injury will vary according to the nature of the act, as well as how much damage and injury was caused as a result of the arson.
No matter the circumstances surrounding your arrest, here at The Law Place, our skilled criminal defense lawyers are here to help. A competent defense attorney could be your only way out of facing a criminal conviction. Call our Venice offices today to schedule a free consultation and get started with your case. Our Florida phone lines are open around the clock, so you can call us at a time most convenient for you. What are you waiting for? Call us today at (941) 444-4444.
What Do the Florida Statues Say About Arson?
As highlighted in Florida Statute 806.01, arson is when a person willfully and unlawfully damages a structure through fire or explosives. The law also specifies that a structure can be considered as an enclosed area with a roof over it and includes portable buildings such as tents, as well as vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft. Examples of a structure could be:
- Retail shops and commercial centers.
- Educational centers such as schools and nurseries.
- Healthcare facilities such as hospitals and doctor’s surgeries.
- Correctional facilities such as prisons.
- Care homes.
- Places of worship such as churches and mosques.
Additionally, as noted in Florida Statute 806.13, the act of arson falls under criminal mischief, which can be defined as the purposeful damage to a property or structure. The penalties associated with arson are serious, but they will vary greatly according to the circumstances surrounding the criminal mischief offense. For example, for structures that do not usually contain people, such as a warehouse, the charges are generally lessened. However, if the arson attack resulted in either injury or even death, then the charges will be much greater.
Arson Statistics in Florida
As noted on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, there were a total of 1,212 arson offenses in 2018. Of that figure, 841 arson attacks took place in an inhabited property, whereas just 285 arson attacks occurred in an abandoned property. Moreover, of the 1,212 arson offenses that took place in 2018, the majority of them took place on a single occupancy residence structure.
Not only does an act of arson lead to property damage, but those that were inside the structure at the time of the attack may be left facing serious injury, and in the worst-case scenarios, those injuries may prove fatal. This is why the State of Florida inflicts such harsh penalties for acts of arson.
What Damages and Injuries Can Result From Arson?
Acts of arson can have devastating consequences for both people and property. The overall damage and injury caused will depend on the severity of the arson attack. Some common damages and injuries that can result from arson are:
- Smoke damage to the structure, which can cause corrosion and wall discoloration.
- Structural damage to the building or structure.
- Damage to internal organs as a result of smoke inhalation.
- Loss of personal belongings and property.
- Emotional trauma, pain, and suffering.
- Burns of the first, second, and third-degree.
- Cuts or lacerations.
- Wrongful death.
Possible Punishments and Penalties as a Result of Committing Arson
In line with the laws of Florida, charges for arson are categorized depending on a number of factors. Such factors include the type of structure or property that was damaged, the extent of the damage to the structure, as well as the level of injuries sustained as a result of the act of arson. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the arson attack that you have been arrested for, you may find yourself facing any of the following charges:
No matter the intent or lack of intent to cause injury, if you are arrested for an act of arson that resulted in bodily harm to any number of individuals, then you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. As noted in Florida Statute 775.082 and Florida Statute 775.083, penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor may include a fine of up to $1,000, up to a year in jail, as well as a permanent criminal record.
Second-Degree Felony Arson
If the act of arson that you have been arrested for has resulted in serious bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement, then regardless of intent, you will be charged with a second-degree felony. Penalities for a second-degree felony can be found under Florida Statutes 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084 and can result in a hefty fine of up to $10,000, up to 15 years behind bars, and a permanent criminal record.
First-Degree Felony Arson
If you have been arrested for arson and are found to have intentionally started the fire, then you will be charged with a first-degree felony. Likewise, if serious bodily harm or death occurred as a result of the arson, then you are likely to be charged with a first-degree felony. Penalties for this charge include up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 payable in fines.
Here at The Law Place, we understand how serious these charges are and how the punishments can impact the lives of you and your loved ones. Our defense attorneys have an abundance of knowledge in handling cases like yours and will do all they can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome, which could see penalties reduced or even eliminated.
Possible Defenses Against Arson
The sooner you seek the expertise of a criminal defense attorney following an arrest for an act of arson, the greater your chances of building a strong defense. In turn, a strong defense strategy may see your punishments reduced or, in the best-case scenario, dismissed entirely. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, a defense lawyer may be able to put forward any number of the following defenses:
- The act of arson was accidental – Intent plays a large part when it comes to determining the criminal charges you will face. If your defense lawyer is able to argue that the arson was not deliberate, then it is possible that your charges may be reduced.
- Actual innocence – Your lawyer may be able to argue that you did not commit the crime that you have been accused of and have been wrongly identified.
- No motive – If the prosecution is unable to prove that you had a motive for the act of arson, then your defense lawyer may be able to dismiss claims of any possible motive and have your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
- Invalid or insufficient evidence – If the prosecution fails to present a substantial amount of evidence that proves guilt, or if the evidence presented is biased or flawed in any way. It may be possible to have your case dismissed.
Contact The Law Place in Venice Today!
If you have been arrested or charged with the act of arson, then it is strongly recommended to seek the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An adept defense attorney will be there to support and guide you through the legal process and will work to build a strong defense strategy that may see your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
Here at The Law Place, we have a team of skilled attorneys with over 75 years of combined experience in defending the accused and handling cases similar to yours. Our attorneys understand how daunting and worrying facing criminal charges can be, which is why we pride ourselves on developing honest attorney-client relationships built on trust and transparency. Many of our lawyers are AVVO rated 10.0, which is the best possible score. Ratings are awarded based on trial skills, length of service, as well as client reviews and testimonials. You can relax in the knowledge that at The Law Place in Venice, your case will be left in competent and knowledgeable hands.
At our law firm, we offer all our customers a free consultation where we will assess your case and offer comprehensive and valuable legal advice on the best way to proceed. Call our offices in Venice today to schedule a free consultation. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can call us at a time that suits you. Rest assured, a defense lawyer will be on hand to help. Call us today at (941) 444-4444.