Arson is the unlawful and willful destruction of property through fire or explosion. It’s an extremely serious offense in Florida because it threatens the safety and life of other people and is responsible for millions upon millions of dollars in damage every year. Depending on the circumstances, such as the type of structure involved, whether the arson was committed during the commission of a felony, and several other considerations, you could be facing felony charges and significant time in jail or prison if you’re charged with arson.
If you’ve been charged with arson in the South Florida area, it’s absolutely critical that you contact an experienced South Florida arson defense attorney like those at LJ Law Group. The sooner you get in touch with a qualified arson defense firm, the sooner you can begin working on your defense strategy.
First-Degree Arson Charges
Florida law separates arson charges into two degrees based on the severity and details of the crime. To get a conviction, the prosecutor will need to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, including the following:
- The defendant willfully and unlawfully caused damage to a dwelling, either inhabited or not inhabited, by fire or explosion
- The defendant willfully and unlawfully caused damage to any other structure that could have been occupied by a human being by fire or explosion, or
- The defendant willfully and unlawfully caused damage to any structure where people are normally present
Florida law holds that these laws apply to a wide variety of places, such as these:
- Jails, prisons, and other detention centers
- Nursing homes
- Other healthcare and group care facilities
- Retail establishments
- Offices and business establishments
- Educational facilities
Charges can be changed to second-degree arson if the alleged perpetrator committed the arson during another felony. This is because the willfulness element is negated by the arson being committed during another felony. Conviction on a count of first-degree arson can carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Second-Degree Arson Charges
A charge of second-degree arson is considered a lesser offense than a first-degree charge. You may be charged with second-degree arson if the arson occurred during the commission of another felony. A conviction on a charge of second-degree arson can carry penalties of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Why Choose LJ Law Group?
If you are facing felony first-degree or second-degree arson charges, there’s no time to lose. You must prepare your defense, and the best thing you can do is reach out to an experienced arson defense law firm in South Florida like LJ Law Group. They have extensive experience successfully defending clients from first- and second-degree arson charges. When your freedom is on the line, you need the most effective legal counsel possible.