Arson Attorneys in Austin, TX
Is Arson a Felony in Texas?
According to Texas penal code, ‘a person commits an [arson] offense if the person starts a fire, regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition, or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage [property].’ In Texas, arson is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in state prison. Moreover, if the fire involves a church or someone is hurt or killed, the crime becomes a first-degree felony, which could carry a life sentence.
In this instance, property in Texas arson cases includes vegetation, fences, any structure on open-land, buildings, habitation, and vehicles. It is the simple act of starting a fire with the motive to cause destruction and/or damage that makes the action arson, no matter how big the fire actually gets. Therefore, it is very easy to be convicted of a very serious crime for doing little to no damage at all.
There are many different motives for arson. Some of the most common motives prosecutors use include:
Starting a Fire for Insurance Purposes or Other Security Interests - Often times, people charged with arson are believed by prosecution to have ignited a fire to property to ultimately win an insurance payout, and therefore, make money. For instance, the Texas penal code notes that simply knowing that a piece of property is insured could be considered a reason for committing arson. For this reason, arson is a very speculative crime, and it is very easy to convict an innocent person. At Carroll Troberman, PLLC, we recognize that you would never burn property for monetary gain and the accusations may simply be incorrect.
- Starting a Fire as a Hate Crime - As most history books will tell, arson has been a common form of hate crime for centuries, and Texas law enforcement is well aware of this. For this reason, in an attempt to prevent hate crimes from occurring in Texas, arson penalties are harshened for a fire that damages a place of worship, such as a church or mosque. Although these laws are meant to prevent hate crimes in Texas, because of this old association, it is very easy to label an accidental fire as a hate crime.
Starting a Fire Out of Recklessness - According to the Texas penal code, a person can commit arson ‘when the person is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.’ This definition sounds very close to an accident, and therefore there is a very fine line between an accidental fire and a felony.
Hire an arson attorney who can make this distinction and get your case dismissed. Call us today.
Arson Cases are Very Circumstantial
Most of the time, there are no eyewitnesses to name the person who started a fire. Therefore, many arson cases are based on hearsay and speculation. For this reason, if you are charged with arson, there is a good chance that an experienced arson attorney can get your case dismissed out of lack of evidence.
Most of the time, fires are started by irresponsible and reckless teens out of thrill and curiosity. Do not let yourself get blamed for starting a fire and committing arson; it can change your life forever, causing you to live as a felon for the rest of your days. You do not deserve the ruthless criminal punishment for such a circumstantial crime.
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