When a fire in Texas results in significant property damage or severe personal injury, investigators may charge a person who allegedly started the fire with arson. This is an extremely serious crime that can involve several years of imprisonment and huge fines if an alleged offender is convicted.
Prosecutors will often have to prove that an alleged offender had the necessary criminal intent when pursuing these charges. It is enormously important for any person accused of this crime to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Georgetown Arson Lawyer
If you are under investigation for or have been charged with starting a fire and having the intent to destroy or damage property, you will want to immediately seek legal representation. Law Office of Michael J. Price, P.C. represents clients in all areas of Williamson County and Bell County.
Michael J. Price has over two decades of experience aggressively defending people in Central Texas against all types of property crime charges. He can review your case to help you understand your legal options when you call (512) 354-1880 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Williamson County Arson Overview
- What charges can a person face if accused of this crime?
- What are the consequences if somebody is convicted of this offense?
- Are there any defenses against these allegations?
Under Texas Penal Code § 28.02, this crime may be classified as one of the following criminal offenses depending on the specific circumstances of the alleged act:
- State Jail Felony — An alleged offender recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance and the fire or explosion damages any building, habitation, or vehicle, or the alleged offender intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion that recklessly damages or destroys a building belonging to another or recklessly causes another person to suffer bodily injury or death.
- Third-Degree Felony — An alleged offender recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance and the fire or explosion damages any building, habitation, or vehicle and results in any person suffering bodily injury or death.
- Second-Degree Felony — An alleged offender starts a fire, regardless of whether it continues after ignition, or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land, or any building, habitation, or vehicle knowing that it either is within the limits of an incorporated city or town, is insured against damage or destruction, is subject to a mortgage or other security interest, is located on property belonging to another, has located within it property belonging to another, or when the alleged offender is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.
- First-Degree Felony — The elements of a second-degree felony offense can be elevated to a first-degree felony if the commission of the offense results in bodily injury or death being suffered by any person or the property intended to be damaged or destroyed was a habitation—meaning a structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons—or a place of assembly or worship.
A person faces some very harsh punishments if he or she is convicted of this offense. Some of the possible sentences, depending on the classification of the crime, include:
- State Jail Felony — Up to two years in state jail and fines of up to $10,000
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000
- First-Degree Felony — Up to 99 years or life in prison and fines of up to $10,000
Texas Penal Code § 28.02 contains two important notes about these criminal charges:
- It is an exception to starting a fire or causing an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land if the fire or explosion was a part of the controlled burning of open-space land.
- It is a defense to prosecution for starting a fire or causing an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any building, habitation, or vehicle knowing that it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town if, prior to starting the fire or causing the explosion, the alleged offender obtained a permit or other written authorization granted in accordance with a city ordinance, if any, regulating fires and explosions.
Some additional defenses against arson charges may include:
- Fire was accidental
- Lack of evidence
- No criminal intent
Law Office of Michael J. Price, P.C. | Arson Lawyer in Georgetown, TX
If you have been arrested for allegedly starting a fire with the intent to destroy or damage property, you will want to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Georgetown as soon as possible. Law Office of Michael J. Price, P.C. helps clients in such areas of Williamson County as Taylor, Round Rock, Leander, Hutto, and Cedar Park as well as communities in Bell County like Temple, Killeen, Harker Heights, and Belton.
Michael J. Price will work tirelessly to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed, but he will not back down from taking your case to trial if that is what is necessary to help you achieve the most favorable resolution. Call (512) 354-1880 or complete an online contact form right now to take advantage of a free legal consultation that will let our lawyers review your case and discuss possible strategies.