The Consequences of Arson Charges in Arizona
Knowingly and maliciously setting fire to a structure or a property is a crime in Arizona. This crime is known as arson and the consequences can be serious.
Arizona Arson Laws
A.R.S. 13-1703 through 1708 are the statutes that deal with various types of arson.
A.R.S. 13-1703 states that the arson of a structure is a Class 4 felony that carries a minimum prison sentence of 18 months. The same applies to property arson, whenever the involved property costs 1,000 dollars or more. For property worth 100 to 1,000 dollars, the perpetrator will face Class 5 felony charges and a minimum prison term of nine months.
The only exception here is the arson of property worth less than 100 dollars. it doesn’t contribute to felony charges and it will be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The related sanctions include up to six months in prison, three years of probation and a fine of 2,500 dollars.
Whenever an occupied structure is set on fire, the perpetrator will face Class 2 felony charges and a minimum prison term of four years.
Under Arizona regulations, the burning of wildlands is also a criminal activity.
Criminal negligence burning is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Reckless burning of wildlands is a Class 1 misdemeanor and the intentional burning of wildlands is a Class 6 felony. Whenever the burning of wildlands is intentional and it endangers people or structures, the perpetrator faces Class 3 felony charges and a minimum prison sentence of five years.
Just like in the case of other criminal convictions, the penalty is going to be higher for repeat offenders. In some instances, they will face 23 years in prison or even more for one previous conviction and 35 years for two or more previous convictions.
Important Steps to Undertake if You’re Charged with Arson
The consequences of both arson and reckless burning in Arizona are going to be serious. If you want to get the best possible outcome out of the criminal investigation process, you have to get in touch with a reputable lawyer immediately.
On top of facing criminal conviction, you could also be held accountable for the cost of damages. Hence, your entire life could be turned around.
The good news is that experienced Arizona criminal defense attorneys can come up with a range of viable, evidence-based defense strategies.
The lack of intent is one possible defense scenario. You may still face sanctions but as you’ve seen already, the charges for negligent and intentional burning are very different from each other.
In addition, starting a fire isn’t always necessarily linked to malicious intentions. A camper who starts a fire to prepare a meal doesn’t intend to burn down wildlands or nearby structures. A change in wind, however, could make the fire spread. In such instances, the camper can’t be found guilty of malicious and intentional arson.
Procedural violations are also commonly addressed by criminal defense attorneys. Errors pertained to evidence collection or the fact that you haven’t been read your Miranda rights could lead to the dismissal of evidence or the dropping of the charges altogether.
If the prosecution has a motive and supporting evidence, putting together a sound defense strategy will be more difficult. A good lawyer, however, could carry out witness interviews and identify counter-evidence to disprove intentional and malicious fire starting.
In some instances, it may be possible to provide evidence that another party was responsible for starting the fire. This, paired with a solid alibi, could easily contribute to a positive criminal proceedings outcome. Once again, comprehensive pre-trial investigation will be required to establish such facts.
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