Arson is defined as “a wanton act of burning or charring of property” and is not restricted to setting fire to buildings. Even willfully setting fire to a forest or a boat are considered acts of arson. Even if your house burns down accidentally, you can be a suspect if you’d insured it for a large sum. Hence, if you are caught in a similar situation, it is advisable to consult a criminal defense lawyer, who’ll help you get absolved of all charges.
The Complexities of Arson Charges
Being charged with arson is a serious matter because it will be months and months of investigation. Law enforcement officers can look for the tiniest clues using advanced chemical analysis methods to determine the fire’s origin. Some criminals use arson as a cloak to hide more serious crimes like murder.
The common reason why evil people indulge in arson is for committing insurance fraud. Hence, any suspicious fire is investigated by the insurance companies thoroughly before settling claims.
The Penalties are Stiff
Although penalties vary from state to state, they are stiff and include fines and imprisonment. A conviction for a first-degree felony may involve a 20-year prison term and fines up to $25,000. With a third-degree being the minimum, it attracts a 7-year imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
Most prosecutors fight the case doggedly because they know that arson cases are highly circumstantial and not easy to win. However, even if you are innocent, but the evidence and circumstances weigh heavily against you, it is an uphill task to absolve yourself. That’s why you must contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will advise you and fight hard in court to prove your innocence.
Defending you against Arson Charges
The investigator’s responsibility is to prove that the suspect was responsible for lighting the fire with malicious intent. The onus is on the prosecutor to prove the defendant’s motive, which is invariably insurance fraud in most cases. Your attorney will hire a fire investigator to determine the cause of the fire and also establish a lack of motive on the defendant’s part.
The attorney will deploy all the resources at their disposal to find the party responsible for starting the fire, which will automatically absolve you of all charges. However, it takes a skilled defense attorney to investigate and prove that the circumstantial evidence will not hold well at a hearing. Any lack of proper evidence puts the onus on the prosecution to prove the charges or drop them.
An experienced attorney will also look for a strong alibi, besides refuting the evidence as it is circumstantial. Just having an insurance policy cannot prove that the accused is guilty of arson. Most seasoned attorneys overcome the insurance motive easily and have it removed from the case.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will focus on gathering evidence supporting the defense. Witnesses testifying as an alibi add strength to the case and helps get the accused absolved of all charges.
Summing it Up
Arson cases can be tricky, as there is always the insurance angle that all prosecutors lean on heavily. Only an experienced attorney can help defendants fight the case successfully.