How Serious Are Seattle Arson Charges?
Most of us have played with fire at some point in our lives. Setting a pile of leaves on fire or playing with matches might seem like harmless child’s play; however, if that fire causes damage to another person or property, you may find yourself in serious hot water.
If you intentionally caused the fire, you could get convicted of a felony and face years behind bars. Even if you did not mean to cause a fire, you can still face serious penalties and consequences according to Washington Law.
Arson Charges in Seattle
An arsonist may set a fire as a means of collecting insurance money, or for revenge. Sometimes there is no real reason for setting the fire. The penalties for arson in Seattle are severe, as it is considered a serious crime.
Arson occurs when an individual intentionally and deliberately damages property or structure by setting off a fire or explosion that results in some degree of destruction.
To charge felony arson, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly caused a fire or explosion that:
- Placed another human being’s life at risk
- Caused damage to a dwelling
- Occurred in an occupied building
- Caused more than $10,000 in damage, with a goal of collecting insurance money.
First-degree arson is a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine.
A charge of second-degree arson must be supported by facts that show you knowingly caused a fire or explosion that damaged a building. As a Class B felony, you can spend up to ten years in prison, and face a $20,000 fine.
Those with no prior criminal history may receive a much lighter sentence, but there are no guarantees, and it is imperative that you have a strong legal advocate in your corner to fight your charges.
Reckless burning in the first degree can be charged when you have recklessly damaged a building or other structure with a fire or explosion. While the crime remains a felony, if you have no prior criminal record, you could receive only 60 days in jail. Reckless burning in the second degree is charged when you intentionally cause a fire on your own property or the property of another.
The fire must put a building, structure, car, or aircraft in danger of damage or destruction. Reckless burning in the second degree is a misdemeanor, punishable by more than 90 days in jail. Under certain circumstances, arson can be a federal crime as well as a state crime if the damaged property is on federal land, is a federal building, or is federally owned.
Defenses to Arson
While your specific defense will depend on the circumstances surrounding your alleged crime, the primary defenses to arson include:
- There was no criminal intent on your part
- The fire was not the result of arson
- You are innocent—you were misidentified and were somewhere else at the time of the arson
If you’ve been charged with arson, you could potentially face serious consequences. Having an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney in your corner is extremely important for your future.
Contact Our Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested for arson or any type of crime in Washington, we can help. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers know that these are serious charges. That’s why we work quickly to protect you from the start.
At Lewis & Laws, PLLC, we have defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Kirkland, and throughout the state of Washington. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our confidential contact form. Call us today!