WHAT DOES BEING CHARGED WITH ARSON MEAN?
Florida recognizes the crime of arson to protect both people and property from the risk of injury that can be caused through way of fire or explosion. If you have been charged with Arson, it is essential you contact an experienced Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer like Kenneth Padowitz. An Arson charge carries with it a Maximum sentence of 30 years in Florida State Prison if the structure is occupied or 15 years if not occupied. Many times these cases are investigated by a Fire Marshall to determine if the fire was due to an accident or foul play. There are numerous defenses that can be employed by an experienced attorney in cases such as Arson.
Florida Statute for Arson
(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, which constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged any structure, whether the property of himself or herself or another, under any circumstances not referred to in subsection (1), is guilty of arson in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) As used in this chapter, “structure” means any building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property and appurtenances thereto, any tent or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft.
Degrees of Arson
1st degree arson occurs if there is a high probability of human occupancy within the structure, a place where people are usually present, or if the defendant targeted a structure he either knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied.
2nd degree applies to all other structures.
What is a Structure in Terms of Arson?
The definition of a structure is very broad and defined as “any building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property and appurtenances thereto, any tent or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft.”
The Elements of Arson
The prosecution must prove that the defendant willfully and unlawfully caused damage to the structure or their contents by either an explosion or fire. The defendant does not have to be the one to cause the damage, it can be by another. For-example, a hired arsonist could complete the crime of arson on the behalf of the defendant, leaving the defendant liable as well. Also for a conviction of 1st degree arson the State will have to prove the knowledge of the defendant in terms of knowing or should have known that the structure was occupied.
Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Kenneth Padowitz Will Aggressively Defend Your Freedom
Strategic Criminal Defense
If you have been charged with Arson, or believe you may be charged sometime in the near future, call Broward criminal lawyer, Kenneth Padowitz, Esq. to discuss your situation. Kenneth Padowitz is an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney with trial-proven results from cases across the United States. We handle cases throughout Broward County and all of South Florida, including: Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Miami, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Parkland. Don’t let this accusation rob you of your freedom. Contact Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. today to discuss this important matter.