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Any criminal charge for arson requires experienced representation. Arson cases often involve detailed chemical analysis, digital images and video analysis. These complicated cases can revolve around expert witness and testimony about how a fire started. Prosecutors often attempt to build cases based on highly circumstantial evidence and speculation.

A surprising number of arson cases involve juveniles who are playing with matches or a lighter often out of boredom or curiosity. Other cases involve a more calculated attempt to defraud an insurance company. Florida has a separate statute for burning to defraud an insurer or an insurance company.

Never talk to any law enforcement officer, including a member of the Fire Marshall’s Office or an agent with the Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations, until you have retained an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

Arson Defense Attorney in Tallahassee

Arson charges are serious and the cases often are complex. If you are charged with arson in North Florida, it is crucial you contact an experienced Tallahassee arson defense attorney to represent you in the case.

The criminal defense lawyers at Pumphrey Law have experience representing clients in arson cases throughout Leon County and the surrounding areas of North Florida. The skilled team will aggressively defend you and fight for the best possible outcome. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation.

Information About Arson Charges in North Florida

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Florida’s Arson Statute Section 806.01

Arson is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If the arson caused damage to any dwelling or structure that normally is occupied, then the crime can be charged as a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years incarceration.

According to Florida Statute Section 806.01, the assistant state attorney must prove during the trial that the defendant acted willfully and unlawfully, or in the commission of any felony. The attorney also must prove the defendant caused damages by fire or explosion. The damages can be done to:

  • Any dwelling, whether occupied or not, or its contents
  • Any structure, or contents thereof, where persons are normally present
  • Any other structure he or she knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a human being

Occupied structures can include churches, educational institutions, office buildings, business establishments, department stores, health care facilities, hospitals and nursing homes.

Under Florida’s arson statute, the term “structure” means “any building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property and appurtenances thereto, any tent or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft or aircraft.”

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Burning to Defraud Insurer or Insurance Company

Florida Statute § 817.233 prohibits burning to defraud an insurer or insurance company. To prove the crime of Burning to Defraud an Insurer, the assistant state attorney must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant either burned, set fire to, caused to be burned, attempted to burn, attempted to set fire to, aided, counseled or procured the burning of a structure, building or personal property
  • The property belonged to a certain person
  • The property was insured against loss or damage by fire
  • The defendant acted willfully and with a fully formed, conscious intent to injure or defraud the insurer of the property

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Additional Resources for Arson Offenses in Florida

  • Florida Advisory Committee on Aron Prevention (FACAP)
    Founded in 1975, the FACAP fights arson and insurance fraud throughout the state. The association includes attorneys, investigators, private fire and arson investigators, officers in the Fire Marshal’s office and agents of the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations. Visit the website to learn about recent arson-related news from across the state. Learn more about the Annual FACAP Arson Seminar.
  • Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations
    In Florida, arson cases often are investigated by the Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations, a Division of the State Fire Marshal. Originally established in 1973, the Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations conducts fire, arson, explosives and related criminal investigations. On Feb. 12, 2013, it was accredited by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. Julius Halas currently serves as the Division Director.

    Florida Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations
    200 East Gaines Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-0322

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Finding a Defense Attorney for Arson Charges in Leon County

If you have been charged with arson in North Florida, contact an experienced Tallahassee arson defense attorney. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have the knowledge and experience to aggressively represent clients throughout Tallahassee, Leon County and the surrounding areas of North Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation.

Article last updated August 5, 2016.

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