Arson crimes are extremely serious matters in the state of Texas, and the laws concerning this crime can be a bit confusing. While the general assumption is that you must be guilty of burning down a building to commit arson, the truth is that there are many other instances that can lead to a person being charged and convicted of this property crime.
In Texas, arson is a felony charge. Because this crime can result in residential and destruction (and in some cases, even death) it will be extremely difficult for convicted individuals to escape some very harsh penalties, including expensive court-mandated fines and multiple years in prison. However, like every other criminal case, you will need to hire a criminal defense attorney if you have been aware of your charges.
Arson Defense Attorney in Collin County
Too many Texas citizens make the mistake of not fighting their charges due to a general lack of legal knowledge. It is important to remember that not every criminal charge has to result in a conviction, regardless of how dire the situation may seem. Hiring the right attorney can make a huge difference in your case, but it must be done swiftly and correctly. Waiting and hesitating can cause you to lose precious time that could have positively contributed to your legal defense.
Facing an arson charge can be difficult. If you are currently dealing with these charges and you don’t know what to do, you will most definitely need a Collin County TX criminal defense lawyer. Serving Collin as well as surrounding cities such as Dallas, Parker, Tarrant, and Denton, the Law Offices to Richard C. McConathy have the experience you need to defend yourself from the consequences of a conviction. With years of experience providing elite legal expertise to Texans around the state, we are confident in our ability to help you with your pending legal matter. For more information on how we can be of assistance, contact us at (469) 304-3422 to receive a free consultation.
Definition of Arson
Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 28.02 provides a closer look at exactly what is considered arson in the state of Texas. According to this statute, an individual is guilty of this crime if they are found starting or causing a fire or explosion with the intent of damaging a building, vehicle, structure, fence, habitation, or vegetation. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a person can only be charged with arson if they attempt to burn down a residential or commercial structure, but this is incorrect. Burning vegetation or any other various assemblages of plant species can lead to arson charges.
In Texas, arson is typically classified as a second-degree felony. However, this crime can be charged as a first-degree felony if there are dire consequences. If the offender was found targeting a place of assembly or worship, this can be charged as a first-degree felony. Arson charges can also upgrade to first-degree if the offender causes another individual to experience death or bodily injury during the offense. Lastly, third-degree felony arson takes place when an individual, while manufacturing a controlled substance, causes an explosion or starts a fire that damages a building, vehicle, vegetation, or habitation.
Penalties for Arson
Individuals who are convicted of arson will steeply pay for their actions. For starters, state jail felony-level arson convictions can lead to a minimum jail sentence of 180 days, and a maximum sentence of 2 years. In addition to this, they may be ordered to pay a court-mandated fine that could be as expensive as $10,000. State jail felony-level arson can be upgraded to third-degree if the offender has a previous felony conviction on their record.
Third-degree felony arson is a crime that is punishable by a two-year minimum prison sentence, but the prison sentence for this crime can last as long as 10 years depending on the severity of the offense. The offender will also be forced to pay a fine that would be as expensive as $10,000.
Lastly, first-degree felony offenders will be subject to a minimum jail sentence of 5 years, and a maximum sentence of 99 years. Like the previous felony arson crimes, first-degree arson carries with it a $10,000 fine, but unlike the previous charges, this one can land you in prison for the rest of your life.
A collateral consequence of an arson conviction is a damaged reputation. When an individual is convicted of a serious property crime that involves burning down an entire building, they are typically seen as a violent and potentially deranged being that may be liable to damage a structure at any moment in time, without any regard for human life. The court of public opinion typically views arson as a violent crime, especially if a person is injured or killed as a direct result of the offender’s actions.
Resources for Arson in Collin County, Texas
Arson Hotline: Texas A&M – This link takes you to the official website of Texas A&M, where you can access their dedicated webpage to forest service. The Texas A&M Forest Service is an entity that works to preserve rural and urban settings while protecting them from individuals who attempt to destroy them. Visit this website to access their hotline and report any suspected wildland arson activity you may have witnessed. Your contributions could lead to a $10,000 reward.
TDI Fire Hotline – This link takes you to the official website of the Texas Department of Insurance. Here, you can learn more about who to call if you witness some suspicious activity involving arson. It is a crime to abuse your insurance policy and attempt to receive a payout from the company that ensures you.
Collin County: Fire Marshal – This link takes you to the official website of Collin County, Texas. This webpage contains information about arson’s effects on the community and why it is so damaging. You can also find some statistics related to the property damages, injuries, and deaths that arson has caused.
Find an Arson Defense Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Arson conviction can seriously damage your future. Residential and commercial buildings (or vegetation) are essential parts of society, and those who attempt to damage them can expect to be brought to justice. However, individuals who have been charged with this crime must remain calm and remember that hiring a criminal defense attorney can assist them in lessening or dismissing their charges.
Have you been charged with arson and you don’t know what to do next? If this sounds like you, it is time to hire a criminal defense attorney in McKinney, Texas. Serving Plano, Denton, Lewisville, McKinney, and many other communities in the state of Texas and surrounding Collin County areas, The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can provide you with the resources and legal expertise you need to understand your circumstance. For more information on how we can help you, contact us today at (469) 304-3422 to speak to a free consultation.