Arson can lead to some incredibly severe consequences in the state of Texas. The laws regarding arson also tend to be somewhat broad. Most people might think arson means setting fire to a home or building on purpose, but the offense can cover other acts as well. A person might be charged with arson for setting fire to any open space, including land.
A prosecutor can charge anyone with arson that is accused of starting a fire or causing an explosion with the intent to do damage to vegetation, a vehicle, a habitation, or any building. Likewise, the punishment will depend on the type of arson charge a person receives.
If someone was hurt or killed by the fire, the person who started it might be charged with a 1st-degree felony. This type of crime is punishable by anywhere between 5 and 99 years in prison along with a possible fine of up to $10,000. If there was an intent to kill, the defendant could face a charge of murder and can receive a life sentence in prison.
If the arson was only intended to damage property, the person responsible might be charged with a 2nd-degree felony, which can result in anywhere between 2 and 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. However, if the property was a place of worship or a home, the person will be charged with 1st-degree felony and will face more severe punishments. Damage that was intentional and reckless might also be considered a state jail felony, which can lead to a 6-month to a 2-year jail sentence.
The line between arson and starting a fire for warmth or to destroy detritus can be hard to detect. Most fires need to be investigated by law enforcement in addition to insurance company adjusters. Investigators can usually find evidence pointing to the deliberate versus accidental beginnings of a fire. For example, types of evidence that can indicate arson include, but are not limited to the following:
- An accelerant
- Suspicious circumstances
- Fire that spreads unusually rapidly
- Illegal activities that caused the fire
If you have been accused of arson, make sure to talk to a skilled Houston criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We are dedicated to helping our clients get the best possible outcome from their cases. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us at (713) 597-2221 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today.