Arson is defined as intentionally and unlawfully causing damage to a dwelling or structure in which people are typically present by fire or explosion. It is a first- or second-degree felony, depending on the particular circumstances.
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Due to the potential destruction and the danger to persons created by instances of suspected arson, they are prosecuted aggressively. If the fire or explosion causes any injury to another person, the accused will face an entirely separate criminal charge for that injury.
In arson cases, prosecutors must prove that an individual actually intended to cause the damage that occurred to the dwelling or structure. This requires some level of evidence, whether a confession, witness testimony, or circumstantial evidence, which indicates that the damage that occurred was more than an accident.
If a person is killed as a result of arson, whether that death was intended or not, the perpetrators of the arson could face a charge of First Degree Murder under the felony murder statute. Under Florida’s murder statute, if a person is killed as a result of a perpetrator’s act during the commission of an enumerated felony (arson is an enumerated felony), the perpetrators are to be charged with First Degree Murder in relation to that death. As a result, any time a death results from the crime of arson, murder charges are almost certain to follow even if the death is a first-responder or firefighter.
It is important to consult a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and pursue all options for your legal defense. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with arson, contact the Law Office of John M. Phillips immediately to discuss your case.