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Violent Crimes: Arson

Miami Criminal Arson Lawyers Arson is an offense under the Florida Statutes involving the willful and intentional damaging of property by fire or explosion. Arson charges can be classified as a first or second degree felony dependent on the facts that are alleged. Arson is one of the most serious offenses under the Florida penal code. Anyone charged with arson should immediately consult with a Miami criminal lawyer at DMT experienced in defending these types of cases in state court. First degree arson requires that the damage was caused to: a dwelling or a home, to a structure during the normal hours of occupancy or when persons are normally present, or any structure. The defendant must also have known or had reasonable grounds to believe that the structure was occupied by a human being. Second degree arson only requires the willful and intentional damaging of a structure by fire or explosion. A structure is defined as any building, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property, any tent or other portable building, any vehicle, any vessel, and watercraft, or any aircraft. The penalties for arson can be severe and are largely determined by the amount of damage caused by the fire or explosion and whether or not the structure was occupied.

Arson will often be charged with other criminal offenses such as insurance fraud or organized scheme to defraud. Individuals accused of arson are also sometimes accused of filing false insurance claims with their insurance company for the destruction of personal property such as homes and automobiles. Arson cases tend to occur when property owners can no longer afford to make their payments and file claims with their insurance company because of economic peril. Another crime that can charged when there is evidence of insurance fraud is burning to defraud an insurer. The crime of burning to defraud an insurer occurs when an individual burns or sets fire to an object and later willfully files claim to recover for the losses of the intentional destruction. Burning to defraud is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison.

An individual who causes intentional property damage can be charged with varying degrees of criminal mischief. A person commits the crime of criminal mischief if he or she intentionally, willfully and maliciously damages another person's property. Graffiti and vandalism are included as specific acts of criminal mischief. If the property damage exceeds $1,000, the offense will charged as a third degree felony punishable up to five years in state prison. If the damage alleged is less than $1,000, but more than $200, the offense will be deemed a first degree misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail. If the damage to another's property is less than $200, the offense is a second degree misdemeanor punishable up to 60 days in jail. Anyone charged with committing criminal mischief against a place of worship, such as a church, synagogue or mosque will be facing a third degree felony, as well as, a potential enhancement for committing a hate crime.

To speak with an experienced Miami criminal attorney at DMT about your arson or criminal mischief case, or if you have questions regarding a matter involving insurance fraud, please contact DMT to schedule a free consultation. You can call our office at (305) 340-2197 or reach us by completing the form on our contact page or by sending an e-mail. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to discuss your case.