Arson is a violent criminal offense performed with the intention to destroy a property, such as a building, a vehicle or a piece of land. The activity is deliberately planned and typically perpetrated with the use of kerosene or gasoline. The property is burned with unlawful intent or without the consent of the owner. A wide range of motives exist for arson or attempted arson and may include bigotry or planned insurance fraud.
In many cases, arsonists deliberately cause fires or explosions in order to file fraudulent insurance claims. A perpetrator may also choose to burn property because he willingly wishes to cause harm to the occupants or the structure.
Are you facing arson charges in Houston, Texas or the surrounding areas? This is a serious accusation and can have devastating consequences on your life. Contact The Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky today for tough legal defense and representation.
Arson charges rely heavily on witness testimonies and physical evidence. The police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed with specific motives in mind. It must also be proved that the offender was present at the time of the fire. The police may use surveillance videos and traces of accelerants to prove the case. In Texas, the state fire marshal provides assistance in investigating possible charges of arson. The evidence is collected and analyzed and often leads to prosecution. The Forensic Arson Laboratory evaluates the data to determine the cause and origin of the fire.
Arson is treated as a first-degree felony if it involves death, bodily injury or damage to public structures such as churches, schools or cemeteries. A lifetime prison sentence is a possible penalty for a felony conviction. Arson charges are typically tried as second-degree felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the severity of the damage and the evidence presented to the court. In cases of arson that involve the manufacture of illegal drugs, the punishment may include high fines and incarceration ranging from six months to two years. The general prison sentence for arson falls between two to 20 years. Those who are found guilty may also be imposed with a criminal record.
Because arson accusations are based on physical records and witness testimony, an experienced arson charges lawyer can help to fight these charges by questioning the reliability and legality of the presented evidence. A person’s Fourth Amendment rights are often implemented during trial to suppress or dismiss the charges. If the methods of obtaining the evidence are questionable, the defendant’s charges may be vacated, or he may be allowed to face a lower level of punishment.
Arson accusations are very serious, so you should let an aggressive attorney help you protect your rights. Call Brett A. Podolsky at 713-227-0087 if you are accused of committing arson and schedule a free case evaluation.