Arson is the act of voluntarily setting fire to another person’s property or setting fire to one’s own property due to an improper motive, such as wanting to file an insurance claim in order to obtain the money.
There are, however, times in which an act can be misconstrued as arson or a person is falsely accused. Even if guilt exists, there may be certain circumstances within the case that can lead to reduced charges or case dismissal.
There are five degrees of arson with the first degree being the most severe, thus having the harshest penalties. However, there are two other types of arson charges in addition to the five degrees. They are: wildfire arson and negligent fires. Here is a list of the charges more in depth:
- First-degree arson — The use of fire or explosives to intentionally cause damage to a structure. It does not matter if anyone else is present at the time of the offense.
- Second-degree arson — Using fire or explosives to intentionally destroy an unoccupied structure, personal or real property that is valued at more than $1,000.
- Third-degree arson — Intentionally destroying personal or real property that is valued between $300 and $999.
- Fourth-degree arson — Intentionally setting fire or using explosives to destroy any personal property or structure not defined by the first three degrees. Setting fire to destroy an apartment or condo can fit under this degree.
- Fifth-degree arson — Setting fire to personal property no matter the value.
- Wildfire arson — Intentionally setting fire to grass, underbrush, timber or other combustible materials found in nature.
- Negligent fire — Negligence that results in a fire burning out of control, causing damage or injury. This charge usually exists when the property of someone else or another person is injured.
If you are facing any of these charges, your Minneapolis arson lawyer can help you fight them. It is possible for the charges to be reduced so that the penalties are reduced or the charges can be completely dismissed.
A solid arson defense by an attorney with real trial experience is very important. The reason is because the science behind arson is not exact. There have been individuals sentenced to death in some jurisdictions because of the science behind it. A lot of the testimony can also be misleading and speculative, although given by expert witnesses. Anything misleading must be revealed in court because a person cannot be convicted if there is the slightest doubt of that guilt within the jury.
If you have been accused of arson, you need experienced legal counsel from a seasoned criminal defense attorney. To set up a free case evaluation with Rivers Law Firm, P.A., please call 612-915-0355 or send an email today.