What are Common Defenses for an Arson Charge in Seattle?
Arson is a serious crime in Washington state. An arson conviction could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000. Arson is also a felony offense, which means it will stay on your criminal record forever. A felony conviction will make it challenging to find a job, housing, or apply for credit.
For these reasons, it is critical to have an experienced and skilled Seattle criminal defense lawyer on your side from the start. You need someone to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. The right defense attorney will know how to build a solid defense to protect your rights and freedom.
What is Arson?
Arson is a type of property crime in which someone deliberately sets fire to a property intending to cause damage or destruction.
There are three types of arson in Washington state: first-degree arson, second-degree arson, and third-degree arson.
- First-Degree Arson. First-degree arson is considered a more serious offense than second-degree arson. A charge of first-degree arson occurs when an individual sets an occupied property on fire or when a fire causes severe injury or death to someone. First-degree arson is a class B felony offense.
- Second-Degree Arson. You can face charges of second-degree arson if the property on fire was unoccupied at the time or when the fire did not cause severe injury or death. Recklessly setting fire to a building or property is a class C felony offense.
- Third-Degree Arson. Third-degree arson is when someone knowingly or intentionally sets fire to their property for fraudulent purposes. Third-degree arson is a class C felony offense as well.
To convict someone of arson, prosecutors must prove that the defendant intentionally set fire to the property and that they did so with the intent to cause damage or destruction. In some cases, prosecutors may also need to prove that the defendant acted recklessly in setting the fire. For example, suppose a defendant started a fire in an apartment complex knowing that there were people inside. They could face charges of first-degree arson even if no one got hurt or killed due to the fire.
Defenses for Arson in Washington
There are many possible defenses that a Seattle criminal defense attorney can use in an arson case.
Some common examples include arguing that:
- The defendant did not intend to start the fire
- The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence of the defendant's guilt
- The defendant has mental illness or some other impairment
- There are mitigating circumstances of the incident that can either reduce or eliminate potential penalties for an arson conviction
- The defendant was provoked or entrapped
- The defendant had a valid reason for setting the fire
The Provocation Defense
Provocation occurs when certain conditions exist that can cause a reasonable person to lose self-control and act rashly. For example, suppose someone suffered severe emotional distress such as verbal abuse or physical violence shortly before setting a fire. In that case, a court may find that the defendant was provoked and therefore not guilty of arson.
The Entrapment Defense
In some cases, a defendant may be able to claim an "entrapment" defense. This occurs when law enforcement officers or other government agents induce a person to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed. For this defense to be successful, the defendant must prove that they were induced by law enforcement through threats, coercion, or other undue pressure.
Each case is unique, and it is important to discuss all potential defenses with an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you on the best course of action.
Contact Our Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with arson, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An arson conviction can result in significant prison time and fines and will likely require you to register as a convicted felon. A qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney at Lewis & Laws can help you understand your rights and options and will work tirelessly to protect your interests throughout the legal process.
If you face charges for any arson offense, it’s essential to immediately get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help reduce your charges and penalties or even have the judge dismiss the case. With the right lawyer on your side, you may be able to avoid jail time entirely or at least have significantly reduced sentences.
Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form. We can protect your future - call us today!