Suspect in Custody for Arson Fires Set in Ballard, Fremont and Queen Anne Neighborhoods

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Apr 22

Lewis & Laws

Suspect in Custody for Arson Fires Set in Ballard, Fremont and Queen Anne Neighborhoods

by Lewis & Laws

Suspect in Custody for Arson Fires Set in Ballard, Fremont and Queen Anne Neighborhoods

Recently, Seattle Police Department investigators identified a 38-year old man as the suspect in a series of large arson fires which were set in the Queen Anne, Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods late in 2018. Authorities believe the suspect set at least five fires at businesses in these areas, including a gymnasium, a restaurant, a lumber yard, an Elks lodge and an office complex. Police estimate the damages from the fires at more than $4.5 million. The suspect was identified after a DNA match from evidence recovered at one of the crime scenes.

Different Types of Arson in Seattle

Arson charges can be both broad and quite serious in the city of Seattle. All arson charges are considered felonies, while reckless burning charges can be either a gross misdemeanor or a felony offense.

You could be charged with arson in the first degree if the state believes you knowingly—and with malicious intent—caused an explosion or a fire which then posed a real danger to others; caused an explosion or fire to a residence while there were people inside; or caused a fire which resulted in more than ten thousand dollars in damages because you wanted to collect insurance payments.  Arson in the first degree is a class A felony.

Arson in the second degree can occur when a person knowingly and maliciously causes a fire or explosion which results in property damage to a building or structure, however there is no risk to the safety of human beings. Arson in the second degree can be charged as a class B felony.

Reckless burning in the first degree occurs when a building, structure, vehicle, watercraft, hay, grain, crop, timber, aircraft or railways car is damaged when a person knowingly causes a fire or explosion. Reckless burning in the first degree is a class C felony.

Reckless burning in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly causes a fire or explosion which places a building, structure, vehicle, watercraft, hay, grain, crop, timber, aircraft or railways car in danger of damage or destruction. You could be charged with a gross misdemeanor for reckless burning in the second degree.

Penalties for Arson in Seattle

If you are convicted of arson in the first degree, as a class A felony you could face a sentence of up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine.

If you are convicted of arson in the second degree, you could face up to ten years in prison as well as a fine as large as $20,000. If you have no prior criminal history, the judge could give you a lighter sentence, but there are certainly no guarantees.

If you are convicted of reckless burning in the first degree, you face felony charges with up to five years in prison and a fine as large as $10,000. If you have no prior criminal history, the judge could punish you with up to 60 days in the county jail.

If you are convicted of reckless burning in the second degree, you are facing a gross misdemeanor, and could be sentenced to up to 364 days in jail.

Under certain circumstances, arson can be a federal as well as a state-level crime if the property damaged is a federal building or federally owned building.

Defenses to Arson

Your Seattle criminal defense attorney will tailor your defense to suit the specific circumstances of your arson or reckless burning charges, however some of the most common defenses to the crime of arson include the following:

  • You lacked intent. You must have knowingly and maliciously set the fire, meaning you did it intentionally. In other words, it must be shown that you knew what you were doing when you set the fire, you intended to do it, and you did it with no coercion. If those things cannot definitively be shown, then the prosecutor may not be able to prove intent.
  • The fire was an accident. You cannot be convicted of felony arson if it can be shown that the fire was started accidentally.
  • You were intoxicated. In some instances, charges of arson—which is considered a general intent crime—could be mitigated if you were involuntarily intoxicated. (Voluntary intoxication is not a legal defense to the crime of arson).

How a Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with arson or reckless burning, take these charges very seriously as the penalties are extremely severe, particularly for arson in the first or second degree. You could potentially spend the remainder of your life in prison if you are convicted of first-degree arson.

It is imperative that you have a highly experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights and your future while mounting an aggressive defense on your behalf.

Getting Help From Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys at Lewis & Laws, PLLC

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, or anywhere in the state of Washington, your entire future is at stake. Contact an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer immediately to begin building a swift and formidable defense against these serious charges. The experienced lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC  have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!



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