Houston Arson Attorneys :: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp
In Texas, arson is classified as a property offense. When a suspicious fire occurs, the state sends a fire marshal to the scene to start an official investigation. During this time, all suspects will be under heavy scrutiny. Not only will the marshal look for motives in the crime, he will collect physical evidence that supports a motive in the case.
A criminal investigation begins by proving that a defendant started a fire or set off an explosion intentionally with the specific knowledge that:
- The property was insured against the damage
- The property was secured by a mortgage
- The property belongs to someone else linked to a suspect
If a fire is started accidentally, a defendant may be charged with arson. Charges may stem from burning a field, setting off fireworks or other acts of recklessness if the act puts other people and their property in danger. If you have been arrested, contact an arson lawyer right away.
Houston Arson Punishments
In cases where arson occurs to an unoccupied building or through the manufacturing of illegal substances, the punishment is a second-degree felony punishable by six months to 20 years in prison. If the case involves arson to an occupied building, the sentence is a class three felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to 24 years in prison. Since the possible punishments for arson are so severe, it is imperative for accused individuals to get in touch with an arson attorney as soon as possible.
Defenses Against Arson Charges in Texas
To convict a defendant of arson, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect knowingly set the fire. In cases in which a fire accidentally burned out of control and caused damage, a skilled criminal defense attorney can argue that the defendant did not act with the intent to damage property or harm others.
In other cases, the prosecution must determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the intent, access and opportunity to complete an act of arson. The slightest weakness in the prosecution’s evidence against a defendant may be grounds for defense.
Additionally, the forensic arson investigation is a complicated process that involves specialized steps in collecting and analyzing evidence. Any flaw in the process of the investigation from crime scene errors to collection errors may be a route of defense. An arson attorney will analyze the details of the case to select the strongest route of defense.
Talk to an Arson Attorney in Houston
Houston criminal lawyers at The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp realize the fear experienced by those charged with the crime of arson. Matthew Sharp is available at all stages of a case to answer questions. They believe in keeping their clients informed during each step of the process. At The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp, you will be treated like a person and not a case; call us today to get a free consultation.