If you are looking for representation in an arson case, you need the most skilled and experienced attorneys in Houston. Criminal arson charges are some of the most difficult and challenging cases to defend. The two best things you can have working in your favor are a strong defense attorney and a capable fire investigator. Solid representation is especially important if your arson case involves injury or significant property damage. When you need defense lawyers you can trust for assertive representation, come to our experienced team.
The Elements of an Arson Case in Houston
Texas Penal Code, Section 28.02 defines arson as starting a fire (whether or not the fire continues after ignition) or causing an explosion with intent to destroy or damage items such as vegetation, fencing, structures, buildings, and vehicles. It is considered arson if the accused knew the building was within the limits of a town, knew the structure was insured against destruction, knew the property belonged to another person, or was reckless about whether the fire or explosion would endanger someone’s life.
Aside from the intent to damage or destroy property, reasons for committing arson might include revenge, intimidation, murder, or to conceal a murder or other crime. Fires can also start as a result of illegal activity, such as the manufacture of methamphetamines.
According to Texas law, a person can only be charged with arson if fire investigators can determine the cause of the fire was intentional or malicious. Unfortunately, there are many cases where the cause of a fire could not be determined and prosecutors unfairly shifted that burden of proof to the accused – also known as “arson by default.” Typically, it is the prosecution’s job to show the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In these cases, however, the defense must show that the accused did not start the fire. This type of case relies on negative corpus, which utilizes the process of elimination to determine the cause of a fire.
Disproving arson can be difficult, and defendants often face an uphill battle in such cases. You need a strong, capable defense attorney by your side for the best chance of a desirable outcome.
Defenses Against an Arson Accusation
A good attorney can build compelling cases for every client, in spite of the circumstances. In many situations, it is possible to build a defense based on a flawed initial fire investigation. It is critical to inspect the conclusion of the initial police or insurance company investigation before coming up with a defense in your case.
Once your attorney has decided the theory of the defense, he or she should illustrate this to the jury from the very beginning of the case. Our team will emphasize that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, not with the defense. This avoids any issues stemming from negative corpus. It is important to start out refuting the stance that the defendant must be guilty from lack of another cause of the fire. This is not the same thing as having a degree of certainty of how the fire started and the involvement of arson.
In dealing with arson charges, it is critical to retain a strong, experienced attorney. Arson with property damage is a second-degree felony with penalties ranging from two to 20 years in prison and hefty fines. If, however, the damaged building is a home or place of worship, it is a first-degree felony. The defendant may also face charges of insurance fraud in these cases as well. The right defense attorney can help build your defense while simultaneously tearing down the prosecution’s case against you. Contact us today and find out if we can help you.