When an individual knowingly and unlawfully causes a fire or explosion that damages property or a structure it is a crime called Arson. In the state of Arizona, Arson is considered to be a serious crime and yields serious consequences. So how can you possibly defend yourself?
The consequences of an arson conviction are dependent upon what class the crime falls under. This differs if certain factors are present. These classes include the following:
Class 2 Felony Arson
The worst type of Arson occurs when the property was occupied during its commission. In this case, you could be charged with a Class 2 Felony. This conviction may be punishable for probation with zero to one year in jail time or three years to 12.5 years in jail. This punishment can be made even more severe if an individual has a previous conviction. This would then increase to 4.5 years to 23.25 years in prison. And finally, an individual has had two prior convictions, the prison only part of the sentence can increase even more from 10.5 years to 35 years in prison.
Class 4 Felony Arson
If the property was not occupied during the commission of an Arson, or if the structure has a value of more than $1,000, an individual may be charged with a Class 4 Felony Arson. Punishment for this includes probation with up to one year spent in jail or prison time from one year to 3.75 years. This increases if the defendant has one prior conviction, with the prison-only sentence ranging from 2.25 to 7.5 years in jail. Those with two prior convictions can receive six to 15 years for the same.
Class 5 Felony Arson
When a property is worth more than $100 but less than $1,000, an individual may face a Class 5 Felony Arson charge. This may include a punishment of probation with up to one year behind bars, or a prison sentence of six months to 2.5 years spent incarcerated. This prison-only sentence increases to 1 year to 3.75 and 3 years to 7.5 years for one and two prior convictions respectively.
Class 1 Misdemeanor
If the property only had a value of no more than $100, then the act of Arson can be considered a misdemeanor and may be punishable for probation and up to six months in prison with fines of up to $2,500 plus a surcharge of 84 percent.
It is important to note that if someone is injured due to the Arson that an individual has committed, he or she may receive an additional charge of “Aggravated Assault.”
Best Possible Defenses to Felony Arson
When a property is damaged, rather than pay out money, insurance companies often go after individuals for Arson. But since a component of Arson is that the individual knowingly did so, one of the best defenses to an Arson charge is that the defendant did not intend to burn down the property.
Additionally, because many things can cause accidental fires, such as wires and space heaters, it is important and often necessary to have an independent investigator look into anything that could have contributed to the fire. Also, in certain circumstances, an individual may in fact intend to start a fire, such as a campfire, but did not intend for it to get out of hand and burn a piece of property in its path. Any admission of guilt or statements made either through coercion or without a proper reading of Miranda rights is inadmissible. Proving sloppy police reports, an invalid warrant or any flaws in admitted forensics can also serve as important defenses.
The Attorneys at Arizona Lawyers Help Those in Phoenix Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
The stakes are high for an individual who is charged with any form of Arson. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney. At Arizona Lawyers, we will fight for your rights. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, fill out a contact form or call us at 602-833-5376 today!