Arson is the causing of willful and unlawful damage by way of fire or explosion to a dwelling or structure, regardless of occupancy. The idea of intentionally setting fire to a building or structure is especially heinous as the potential damage can be immense and irreversible. Consequently, penalties for arson include hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences. This requires help from a skilled defense attorney.
Vital facts like the intent of the individual accused of setting the fire, whether the arson occurred during the commission of a felony, and many other factors play a role in how the prosecution will approach the case. Equip yourself with an experienced Orlando arson lawyer with The Umansky Law Firm who can use the letter of the law to your benefit to potentially get charges lessened or dropped or work out an agreement with the prosecutor that does not involve incarceration.
Felony arson charges can be in either the first or second degree in Florida depending on the specifics surrounding the incident. The area’s occupancy and whether or not the burned area was a structure or dwelling allows the court to decide between first- and second-degree arson. The following explains the crimes further:
Dwellings are described as buildings built to be “occupied by people lodging therein at night.” Florida § 810.011(2). A structure as described in this chapter is “any building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property and appurtenances thereto, any tent or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft.” Florida § 806.01(3).
Penalties for arson in Florida directly reflect the degree of the charge and any other crimes committed during the commission of arson. For example, someone who breaks into a home, steals valuables, and then sets fire to the property will face burglary charges in addition to arson charges. Florida arson penalties are as follows:
The judge can also order that you pay restitution totaling in the amount of damaged property.
Defending against arson charges can be difficult, but prosecutors also face an uphill battle for getting charges to stick. Often there are no eye witnesses to the crime and forensic evidence has to be gathered by experienced fire investigators. The last thing you want to do is to give statements to the police they can use against you. Simply having an experienced criminal defense lawyer may mean the difference between going to prison and getting probation or the charges dropped altogether.
One of the most crucial factors is intent. The statute defines arson as being a “willful and unlawful” act. Your criminal defense attorney can assert that you lacked intent as the fire started as a result of an accident or factors out of your control.
For example, if you fell asleep with the oven or faulty wiring started a fire, you did not wilfully start the fire. Another defense is actual innocence, meaning that the fire may have been intentional, but you are not the individual responsible for starting the fire. These and other reasons have been used to help defend people charged with arson. Anyone can make a mistake.
If you or someone you know is facing felony charges for arson, don’t hesitate to acquire the legal services of an Orlando arson lawyer with The Umansky Law Firm. We have over 100 years of combined experience and can help best prepare you for your day in court. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
The Orlando arson lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm are seasoned criminal defense attorneys who can help you present the most suitable defense to the charges you face. Our team consists of prior state and local prosecutors who possess insight as to how the state will approach a case depending on your situation specifically. Reach out to us and have us analyze your case and start building your defense today.
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