Arson Charges in Waco?
Arson is the act of intentionally setting a fire or causing an explosion with the express intent to damage or destroy a building, structure, vehicle, or another target. This definition applies even if the fire or explosion fizzled out and was unable to carry out the intended damage. We have decades of experience in Waco arson cases. Since 1925, our law firm has provided valuable strategic advice for people accused of crimes in Waco. Call us at 254-753-6437 for a free 30-minute consultation.
Criminal arson has the added definition of starting a fire or explosion with reckless disregard for others’ safety. To bring a criminal arson to someone, the alleged crime scene must be examined to determine the intention of the alleged arsonist. This is done to show that the suspected arsonist committed several actions that fulfill requirements for a criminal arson charge. They include:
- The defendant committed the arson while knowing that their target was insured against damage or destruction.
- The defendant knew that the specific property located inside the targeted location belonged to another person.
Arson Penalties in McLennan County
- A conviction for arson is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison. An arson event that damaged a church or caused an injury is a first-degree felony that can be punished by life in prison.
- Many small cases of arson are prosecuted as criminal mischief in Waco. A conviction for criminal mischief in which $50 or less of the property was damaged is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine, not more than $500. But arson that destroys up to $1,500 in the capital is a class A crime that can carry a one-year jail sentence.
After an unusual fire or explosion, local law enforcement officers and analysts with the Texas Fire Marshall will direct an examination. Texas statutes give the State Fire Marshall the authority to commission law enforcement officers to act as arson and fire investigators. The State of Texas uses its enormous resources to examine arson because of the considerable potential for property damage, catastrophic personal injury, or death.
These cases are complicated because eyewitnesses rarely see how the fire started. Motives to start a fire range from insurance fraud to hate crimes. Juveniles who are curious about fire commit many arson crimes.
Questions about the Waco Criminal Justice System
You probably have a lot of questions about winding up in the justice system in Waco. It is always best to talk face-to-face with your lawyer about the specific facts and law in your case. In the meantime, you can read some of the frequently asked questions about the local criminal procedure.
Defending Against Arson Charges in Waco and McLennan County
Arson attorneys may attempt to fight arson charges in several ways. For instance, an arson charges attorney might argue that the defendant had no way of knowing the damaged property was owned by someone else. The arson attorney might also say that there is not enough evidence to link their client to the arson crime. If you have been accused of arson in McLennan County, you need to call an attorney experienced handling these charges. Our attorneys are experienced in defending arson cases in McLennan County. If you need an aggressive Waco criminal defense attorney for arson defense in Waco, call us at 254-753-6437.