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Arson Charges

Even in ancient legends, the creation and control over fire is what separated man from the beasts. The gods in ancient Greek myths hid fire from the mortal humans to oppress them and stunt their societal development. And when the mythical figure of Prometheus stole fire and brought it to the mortals, humans gained the ability to challenge the gods that had long oppressed them. Here in the real world, fire separated the Neanderthals from Homo Sapiens. Fire allowed early humans to cook and consume meant and other foods for energy. Fire allowed humans to keep warm in extremely cold environments. Fire was used in religious rituals, as a tool, as a communication device, and as an indication of social gathering. And in modern times of course, fire is used to commit crimes.

In fact, a whole category of criminal offenses using fire is defined under our State criminal statutes. While there are separate statutes prohibiting and punishing the damage or destruction of property, namely criminal mischief, offenses involving the use of fire are punished more severely. This is likely because fire, while it can be used as a tool and easily controlled and created, must be treated with respect. As we saw with the horrible wildfires in Australia in 2019, fire can just as easily be an uncontrollable and destructive force. Because fire, once unleashed cannot be controlled, the potential for damage and death can be astronomical. For that reason, crimes committed with fire are punished more seriously than other similar offenses. If you have been charged with or investigated for a charge of arson, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney.

Elements of Arson

Arson is defined under Florida Statute 806.01 as follows: (1) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged:(a) Any dwelling, whether occupied or not, or its contents;(b) Any structure, or contents thereof, where persons are normally present, such as: jails, prisons, or detention centers; hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care facilities; department stores, office buildings, business establishments, churches, or educational institutions during normal hours of occupancy; or other similar structures; or(c) Any other structure that he or she knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a human being, is guilty of arson in the first degree.

Arson of the first degree is a first degree felony punishable by up to thirty years in prison. First degree arson is an offense that punishes the potential loss of life associated with setting fire to or using explosives to damage a structure that is occupied or usually occupied by human beings. Second degree arson is defined as arson when the accused sets fire to a building that they know is not occupied by people or is not usually occupied. Even in that scenario, when only property is placed in danger, second degree arson is still considered a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Either way, an arson conviction can carry severe criminal penalties, and you should contact a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense attorney to defend you.

Arson is a criminal charge that very often originates with people in desperate situations. Often business owners or homeowners will commit an arson in order to recoup insurance money when their business struggles or they have other crushing debts. This is why business owners and homeowners are often the primary suspects for police when an arson happens. No matter your guilt or innocence, if you are suspected of arson, you should not talk to investigators and you should contact a lawyer.

Speak to Our Lawyers Today

The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience to defend even the most difficult criminal charges. Don’t risk your life and livelihood, call us for a consultation today at 727.897.5413.

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