Mankato Arson Attorney
There are several degrees of arson, most of which are intentional and all of which are serious charges. Arson can either be described as setting fire to your own property or to another person’s property. In some cases, setting fire to your own property may lead to an insurance fraud investigation. No matter the type of arson charge, the key factor is that there was likely a degree of intent behind the act. Just how serious that degree of intent was will determine how severe the sentencing is – or if you get convicted at all.
Types of Arson Charges
There are five degrees of arson, ranging from intentional to mostly unintentional:
- First degree arson is the most serious charge and is characterized by the purposeful act of starting a fire with an explosion or other devices and causing damage to a property. This is a felony charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
- Second degree arson is slightly less serious but is still a felony that can result in up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. Second degree arson is essentially any kind of arson that doesn’t fit into the first degree category but is still intended to damage personal property or a vacant structure.
- Third degree arson is setting fire with the intention to destroy property that’s valued between $300 but under $1,000. This is considered a gross misdemeanor and can lead to up to a year in prison and $3,000 in fines.
- Fourth and fifth degree arson are both considered misdemeanors. Essentially, they’re characterized by the act of setting fire to property with intent to cause damage. These charges are for acts that don’t fit into the other three categories.
- There are also two types of charges that don’t fit neatly into the arson category: negligent fire and wildfire arson. A negligent fire is when an act leads to a fire that becomes out of control but isn’t an intentional act. Wildfire arson is the act of starting a wildfire either intentionally or accidentally. If it was intentional and meant to cause damage, it’ll be considered a felony. If it was accidental, it may be considered a gross misdemeanor.
How Are Charges and Sentencing Determined?
It’s in your best interest to work with a defense attorney experienced in arson defense laws. There will likely be many factors influencing your charges and their outcomes. For example, forensic fire investigators will investigate the scene to find the cause of the fire, whether or not it was intentional, and what method was used to start it. Likewise, your charges will depend heavily on the value of the property.
All of these factors will be thoroughly examined during your trial, and finding a flaw in even one argument can drastically affect the outcome of your case. Therefore, an experienced attorney will know how to identify and exploit these flaws to your advantage. Furthermore, your attorney will try to have your charges and/or sentence reduced, even if you’re convicted. For example, certain evidence could be used to drop your felony charges to a gross misdemeanor, which would significantly reduce your sentence.
Effective Legal Defense for Arson Charges
The Knutson+Casey Law Firm works with clients in Mankato, Austin, Owatoona, and surrounding communities. We’re firm believers in a defendant’s right to have an effective and competent defense team. We have exceptional experience across a broad spectrum of criminal defense specialties, including arson defense. Because of our meticulous and exhaustive approach, we often have our clients’ charges reduced or dismissed. We can’t guarantee a dismissal, but we can pledge our full attention and best work. Contact us today for a free consultation.