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According to CrimeGrade.org, the arson rate in Florida is 0.16 per 1,000 residents yearly. This gives the state of Florida a grade of D+ regarding arson crimes.
Florida residents agree that the northwest part of the state is considerably safer than other areas concerning arson. Moreover, arson is more common in densely populated cities or areas that many commute to for work. For example, when considering the Tampa Bay area, the arson rate is significantly higher in Sarasota than in New Port Richey.
If you’re facing arson charges, you need a Tampa arson lawyer, like Mike G, to help with your case. Here’s what you need to know about arson charges in Florida and how Mike G Law can assist you.
How Is Arson Defined?
Florida Statute 806.01 defines arson as causing unlawful and willing property damage by fire or explosion. The law includes various dwelling and property types, such as:
- Detention centers
- Educational institutions
- Health care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Portable buildings
The Penalties for Arson Charges in Florida
Although arson charges are always a felony, the punishment for arson differs depending on the circumstances and state of the crime. This is because there is no federal arson statute, so if a federal court wants to prosecute an arson-related crime, it must find another way.
Additionally, many commit arson for the following reasons:
- To collect money from an insurance company
- To commit vandalism
- To conduct a hate crime
- To destroy evidence
Those who commit arson often face arson charges plus further charges for other crimes. For instance, if you commit arson to make an insurance claim, the state will also pursue charges for insurance fraud.
Below you’ll find common penalties for arson charges in Florida.
Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list of possible charges you may face for arson-related crimes.
Arson in the First Degree
A first-degree arson charge is when the offender knew or had reason to believe people were present at the damaged property. Penalties for a first-degree felony conviction are a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Arson in the Second Degree
Conversely, a second-degree arson charge is when the offender damages an unoccupied structure. This charge also includes damaging a dwelling or property by fire or explosion while committing another felony.
If convicted of a second-degree felony for arson, the offender faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Arson Resulting in Great Bodily Harm of Another
The offender would face an additional charge if the arson caused someone great bodily harm. Causing great bodily harm is a second-degree felony resulting in a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Arson Resulting in the Injury of Another
If the arson caused a minor personal injury to another person, the offender will receive an additional charge of a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalty is up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Potential Defenses Against Arson Charges
There are several defenses your Tampa arson defense lawyer might use in your Florida property crime case. Here are some of the most common.
The Fire Was Legal
If you had the authority to start the fire, your lawyer could claim the fire was legal. For instance, if you had a permit for clearing land, you had a legal right to start a fire.
The Fire Wasn’t Willfully Started
Since the law defines arson as unlawful and willing property damage, you cannot receive an arson charge if you didn’t willfully start the fire. So, for example, if you sparked a campfire that grew out of control while camping, this is not arson.
Not Enough Evidence
Law enforcement may not collect enough evidence to convict you of a crime. Whether there simply wasn’t enough evidence at the crime scene or the officers did a poor job of collecting evidence, your lawyer will always point out when there simply isn’t enough evidence to convict you.
This can include physical evidence, such as camera footage or evidence proving intentionality.
Naturally, if you have an alibi, your arson attorney will present it to the court to show you didn’t commit the crime. Therefore, always tell your lawyer immediately if you have an alibi so that they can corroborate it with others.
Your Civil Rights Were Violated
If the arresting officer violated your rights during your arrest, tell your Tampa criminal defense lawyer during your consultation. There’s a chance the court could throw your case out for mishandling the situation.
Statute of Limitations for Arson in Florida
Florida law states the statute of limitations for arson in the first degree is four years. However, the statute of limitations for arson in the second degree is three years.
If the state wants to pursue a charge of arson resulting in the injury of another, they have two years to do so.
Why Should You Choose Mike G Law?
Mike G is your go-to criminal defense attorney in the Clearwater-Tampa-St. Petersburg tri-area, covering the following counties:
- Hernando County
- Hillsborough County
- Manatee County
- Pasco County
- Pinellas County
- Polk County
An Experienced Tampa Lawyer
Mike G has more than 25 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney. As a no-nonsense lawyer, he will provide honest legal advice for your case.
You can explore the Mike G law firm website to read testimonials from past clients to learn more about his experience. He also has ample experience as a juvenile criminal defense lawyer.
When you contact Mike G Law, you will receive a free initial consultation for the arson crime you face. Given your circumstances, you’ll learn what options you can pursue during the consultation.
Our Tampa office is available 24/7, so don’t hesitate to call (813) 221-4303 today.
At the law office of Mike G, we accept payment plans and credit cards. We believe everyone has an equal right to fair representation before the judge and the opportunity to fight their case.
Get the Help You Need for Your Defense
Florida doesn’t take arson charges lightly. So if you’re facing an arson charge, you want a Tampa arson lawyer immediately.
Get help now from the law firm of Mike G Law. We’re here to help you win the best possible outcome for your case.
Let Mike G Help Protect Your Rights
The decisions you make after you have been arrested can determine the outcome of your case — and possibly your life. Call Mike G Law at 813-221-4303, or contact me online.Get Help Now En Español
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