Dallas Arson Defense Lawyer

Arson is about so much more than intentionally setting fire to a structure. You can be charged with arson for fooling around with fireworks, starting an illegal campfire, or causing an explosion while cooking a controlled substance. Some people are accused of arson as a form of insurance fraud, knowing that they stand to collect money if their boat, home, or vehicle goes up in flames. Take advantage of your right to a vigorous criminal defense and call Dallas arson defense attorney Jeff King today for a free case evaluation. Don’t settle for any less than the best when your freedom and reputation are at stake..

What is Arson?

Arson is defined as the willful and malicious burning of property. Arson crimes range from intentionally setting fire to one’s own property to collect insurance money, to forest fires caused by human activity, to the “firebug” pyromaniac who simply enjoys burning structures. Texas allows the prosecution of individuals even when the fire burned out, without causing any damage – so long as lawyers can argue the “intent to cause harm.” Arson may be considered a state felony, or a federal felony, when there is a potential to cause injuries or death.

What are Different Degrees of Arson?

Texas Penal Code § 28.02 recognizes three degrees of arson:

  • First Degree – Felony arson involves an individual who knowingly starts a fire that causes bodily injury or death; it is also a felony if the property damaged or destroyed was a home, place of assembly, or place of worship.
  • Second Degree – A person sets vegetation, fencing, a building, or vehicle on fire with intent to damage or destroy, knowing that: it belongs to another person, it is reckless to do so, or it holds some insurance value.
  • Third Degree – A person starts an unoccupied vehicle or building on fire as a result of reckless conduct, rather than malicious intent to harm someone. Sometimes these charges can be plead down to “criminal mischief,” which carries less serious sentencing.

The motivations for starting a fire have significant bearing on the types of charges filed. The person who burns down his own house to collect insurance money, or who is attempting to hide a crime will be judged much differently than the accidental fire caused by attempting to clear backyard brush.

Arson Penalties & Prison Terms in Texas

If convicted, arson charges can be devastating for a defendant living in Dallas, Texas. Punishments may include:

  • Jail Time For Arson – Jail time for arson ranges from five to 99 years for a first degree felony; two to 20 years for a second degree felony; or two to 10 years for a third degree felony. Even a third degree state jail felony results in a minimum of 180 days in prison, ranging up to two years. Third degree arson is usually classified as a “non-violent” offense, which increases the chance for parole.
  • Penalty For Arson – The penalties for arson may include fines of up to $10,000, plus court-ordered restitution to cover the cost of repairs to the damaged property.

People charged with arson can also be charged with homicide if one or more persons were fatally wounded in the fire.

Legal Defenses for Arson

A good arson defense starts with immediate access to top fire and crime scene investigators. Experienced insurance company experts and police officers are the first on the scene, so it is imperative to get involved immediately to make sure the defense team has the same access to critical evidence. Jury education is the next step in placing the burden of proof on prosecutors. Skillful cross-examination with the help of fire investigators is necessary to expose gaps in the other side’s understanding of how the fire started.

Legal defenses may include:

  • The accused has a rock-solid alibi and could not have started the fire.
  • There is insufficient evidence to prove how the fire started or who started it.
  • The accused did not intend to start the fire or to cause harm.
  • The accused started the fire, but did not intend to cause harm.
  • The accused started the fire, but was mentally incapacitated at the time.
  • There is reasonable doubt, as there are other possible cause-and-effect explanations that cannot be disproven.
“Competent and Compassionate”

I found Jeff to be a competent and compassionate advocate. As a client, he was the “voice” that I needed him to be to achieve a good result. He allowed me to communicate my needs to him and then diligently went to work to attain them. I would recommend him without hesitation.

“I was given a fair and positive outcome.”

With the type circumstance I had, it was not a hard case nor one that required a court visit or in front of a Judge but it did take some research and many hours of information gathering. I was given to the point, fair and accurate information by Jeffery King and he stuck with me through the whole ordeal. This was not only vital but very personable and I appreciated that to the fullest. I felt comfortable and positive through the entire situation and was given a fair and positive outcome. I thank Jeff King and his other staff that were involved for all they did.

“Prepared, Aggressive & Passionate about the Defense”

As the father of a recent active duty Air Force client of Mr. King’s, and being intimately involved day to day with the case, I can say without hesitation nor mental reservation, Jeff King is a consummate professional. Jeff was not only prepared, aggressive, and passionate about the defense, he also made the time to explain in detail every facet of the trial as it progressed. Having an attorney of Jeff’s caliber in our corner bestowed a feeling of confidence to our family, which was a critical factor in our ability to manage the stressfulness inherent to such serious allegations. Jeff prepared the entire family for every scenario, good and bad, and for that we are forever grateful. Upon receipt of the not guilty verdict and celebrating the obvious joy we felt that this “created adventure” had now come to an end, also came the realization that not only had he won this case, and with it our son’s continued freedom and innocence, but we had made a friend of the highest regard. Our family cannot thank Mr. King enough for his excellent representation on behalf of our son, but also for the lofty amount of integrity and humility demonstrated during the most trying time of our lives. Much respect and Semper Fi.

“Jeff is the best!”

I thought my life was over when I was accused of a horrible crime at a general court-martial. From the moment I met Jeff, he instilled confidence in my case and showed a real enthusiasm for what he does. Be warned: Jeff will put you to work! He prepares for battle and expects you to contribute. He is confident in court and I enjoyed watching the jury respond to him. In the end, I was found NOT GUILTY to all charges! I am so grateful that I hired Jeff to defend me.

“Jeff sets the standard.”

Jeff was amazing! He handled my case through the end of the Article 32 hearing, and set the basis for my acquittal. If it had been any other IO than the one it was, I am certain it would have been dismissed right then, as all the objections he made in the Article 32 were later upheld by the Military Judge, and they been upheld at the Article 32 hearing, it would have been dismissed on the spot. His knowledge, and preparation made all the difference in my case, and his relentless pursuit of the truth showed through. He will always be my first recommendation to anyone who needs legal help.

What Should I do if Accused of Arson?

Dallas, TX Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeff King will make sure your rights are not infringed upon if you have been charged with a property crime like arson. Law enforcement professionals will be equipped with the latest technology and forensic experts to prove their case against you. Investigators also closely examine many facets of your life to determine a motivation or pin you for intent to harm. With over 14 years of experience and more than 1,000 successful trial verdicts, Jeff King has experience dealing with the most complex cases involving witness testimony and forensic evidence. Call now for a free consultation.

Additional Resources

  1. Texas Penal Code, Title 7, CHAPTER 28. ARSON, CRIMINAL MISCHIEF, AND OTHER PROPERTY DAMAGE OR DESTRUCTION, http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.28.htm
  2. Find Law – TX Penal Code 28-2, http://codes.findlaw.com/tx/penal-code/penal-sect-28-02.html#sthash.DUXXcC1l.dpuf

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