Our Ft Lauderdale arson lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that the crime of arson 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 Ft Lauderdale criminal attorney today.
Elements of Arson
According to s. 806.01, 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 dwelling, whether occupied or not, or its contents;
- Any structure, or contents of or within that structure, 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); and/or
- 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 is a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and/or 30 years in prison as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Additionally, as our Ft Lauderdale arson attorneys know, 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 above, is guilty of arson in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and/or 15 years in prison as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Broward County Arson Laws
As it is used in this chapter, 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, as our Ft Lauderdale arson lawyers know, you can be convicted of arson in the first degree for lighting a harmful fire on a cruise ship or aircraft just as easily (in terms of having this law applied to your case) as you can for lighting a harmful fire in a library.
Now, given the language of s. 806.01, prosecutors will have to 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 arson lawyer, like ours at Leifert & Leifert, will work their hardest to cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegation that the setting of the fire or causing of the explosion was intentional. If a legal defense team can lead a jury to believe that it might not have been intentional, we can avoid a conviction.