Our Ft Lauderdale arson lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that this crime is taken very seriously all around the country, particularly in Florida where hot weather plays a significant role in allowing fires to start and grow. Florida State Statute 806.01 deals with what constitutes arson and what type of punishments are prescribed for those who have been convicted of this serious criminal offense. To get started in protecting your rights, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney today.
What are the Legal Elements of Arson?
Under Florida State Statute 806.01, any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages a 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. These structures typically include any dwelling, whether occupied or not, as well 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.
This crime is a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and/or 30 years in prison. Additionally, any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages any structure, whether the property of himself or herself or another, under any circumstances not referred to above, is guilty of arson in the second degree. This is a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and/or 15 years in prison. Our lawyers in Ft. Lauderdale could provide legal advocacy to someone facing arson charges.
How to Build an Arson Defense
The word “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. This means someone can be convicted of arson in the first degree for lighting a harmful fire on a cruise ship or aircraft just as easily as they can for lighting a harmful fire in a library.
Now, given the language of s. 806.01, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant in question willfully set or caused the fire that caused damage to a given structure. Proving intent can be difficult without strong evidence such as a note, internet searches and suspicious searches. A strong Ft. Lauderdale lawyer could work their hardest to cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegation that the setting of the fire or causing of the explosion was intentional in an arson case. If a legal defense team can lead a jury to believe that it might not have been intentional, we can avoid a conviction.
Contact a Ft. Lauderdale Arson Attorney
If you have been accused of intentionally setting a fire, you should contact one of the Ft. Lauderdale arson lawyers at Leifert & Leifert. Our team of attorneys could provide aggressive advocacy and legal support throughout the criminal justice process. We want to protect your rights and your freedom. To get started on your case, schedule a consultation today.