Have You Been Charged with Arson?
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.
You can be charged with arson regardless of your intention. Even accidentally starting a fire that damages property or harms others can land you with an arson charge. A felony on your criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life. Many employers see it as a liability and won’t hire felons. Even more, you may also have trouble finding a landlord who will rent to you and your family.
What is Considered Arson 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 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 are simply 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. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to set the record straight and clear your name.
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 a criminal defense attorney who can make this distinction and get your case dismissed.
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 criminal defense 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 with starting a fire and committing arson; it can change your life forever, causing you live as a felon for the rest of your days. You do not deserve the ruthless criminal punishment for such a circumstantial crime.
Texas Fire Marshall Involvement
When there is an arson case, the Texas Fire Marshall will lead an investigation, along with prosecutors, to try a find the cause and culprit of the damage. The Texas Fire Marshall uses their own forensic laboratory and highly trained dogs to find evidence to form a case against you. You need an Austin arson defense lawyer who can intricately begin to build your case to defend your name. It is very important to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible; building a case takes time. At Carroll Troberman, PLLC, our experienced and dedicated attorneys will start an investigation by using police reports and gathering witnesses and other evidence to create a strong, soundproof defense for your case.
You Need Aggressive Austin Criminal Attorneys
When you’re arrested for arson, you need a strong criminal defense attorney to support your case and protect you from overzealous prosecutors. Some prosecutors will do anything to see your conviction, and you need a dedicated and aggressive criminal defense attorney to combat this.
You will not be disappointed with the criminal defense lawyers at Carroll Troberman, PLLC. Both Blair Carroll and Shelly Troberman are experienced in the field, respected by their peers, and well-versed in the Austin court system. For instance, Blair Carroll has practiced criminal defense in courts across the state. He is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Meredith “Shelly” Troberman is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. She has worked on both sides of the aisle in Travis County criminal proceedings and knows exactly how to protect her clients against prosecution tactics.
Give Us a Call
The sooner you call us, the sooner we can schedule an appointment with you and begin building your case. At Carroll Troberman, PLLC, we care about our clients and promise to fight tirelessly for your rights. Give us a call today to set up a free, confidential consultation.