Arson Explained by a Criminal Defense Attorney
Arson is a crime generally understood by the public to encompass the unlawful destruction of property by the use of fire or an explosion. An allegation of arson is a serious one and should not be taken lightly by any defendant. If you have been charged with arson it is important to quickly retain a criminal defense lawyer and begin defending such an accusation. The State of Florida has many laws punishing conduct for the various arson crimes. The most common arson crimes charged in Miami Dade County are:
Arson – First Degree Fla. Stat. § 806.01(1),
Arson – Second Degree Fla. Stat. § 806.01(2), and
Arson – By Fire Bomb Fla. Stat. § 806.111.
If found guilty of first degree arson, a defendant can face up to thirty years in prison even if nobody is injured as a result of the fire. Arson charges are no laughing matter and should be taken seriously by a defendant. On top of long prison sentences, hefty monetary fines and restitution can also be required of a defendant found guilty by the Court.
Arson – First Degree Fla. Stat. § 806.01(1)
The criminal allegation of first degree arson under Florida Statute Section 806.01(1) has several elements that must be proven at trial. Not only must each element be proven but the State is required to prove each element beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt, including:
- The defendant damaged or caused to be damaged any structure or the contents alleged by a fire or explosion;
- The damage was done either willfully and unlawfully OR the damage was caused while defendant was engaged in the commission of felony alleged (which can include burglary or other property crimes).
- The structure alleged was either a dwelling (if charged under § 806.01(1)(a)) or an institution in which the damage occurred during normal hours of occupancy or where persons normally are present (if charged under § 806.01(1)(b)) OR a structure (if charged under § 806.01(1)(c)).
- The defendant knew or had reasonable grounds to believe the structure alleged to have been damaged was occupied by a human being.
Some lesser included offenses of arson include arson in the second degree under 806.01(2), attempted arson under 777.04(1) and/or criminal mischief under 806.13.
Arson — Second Degree Fla. Stat. § 806.01(2)
For second degree arson under Florida Statute § 806.01(2), in order for the State Attorney’s Office to prove arson in the second degree at trial, the prosecutor must prove all of the following elements beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt:
- The defendant caused to be damaged or damaged a structure alleged, owned by the defendant or another, by explosion or fire.
- Either the damage was done willfully and unlawfully or the damage was caused while defendant was engaged in the commission of a specifically alleged felony which can include burglary or other property crimes.
- The structure alleged is a structure as defined under Florida Statute Section § 806.01(3).
Arson — Fire Bomb Fla. Stat. § 806.111
In order for the State of Florida to prove the crime of arson under Florida Statute § 806.111, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove all of the following elements beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt:
- The defendant possessed a fire bomb or alternatively, one of the following can be alleged – the defendant manufactured, gave, loaned, offered to sale, transferred to, transported, disposed of, or offered to a specific person alleged a firebomb).
- At the time, the defendant intended the fire bomb would be willfully and unlawfully used to damage by fire or explosion to any structure or property.
Definition of Fire Bomb under Florida Law
Under Florida law, Florida Statute § 806.111(2)(b), the term firm bomb is defined as to mean a “container containing flammable liquid, or combustible liquid, or any incendiary chemical mixture or compound, having a wick or similar device capable of being ignited or other means capable of causing ignition; but no device commercially manufactured primarily for the purpose of illumination, heating, or cooking shall be deemed to be such a fire bomb.”
Finding an Arson Attorney in Miami
If you have been charged with any degree of arson contact a criminal defense lawyer at Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. Our attorneys have represented clients investigated and charged with arson and we are ready to present your best defense to these serious allegations.
Our Miami criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors with first-hand experience of how the State Attorney’s Office prosecutes arson crimes. We represent clients on a wide variety of serious property crimes in both state and federal court. Don’t let an arson allegation ruin your future, call Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. now for a free consultation, (305) 615-1285.