Arson is a serious charge that carries with it stiff penalties. The exact penalties can vary based on the state you reside in and if you are charged with first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree arson. Due to the severity of this charge, it is always recommended that you hire a criminal defense lawyer to help you fight the charges you are facing. Here are a few of the most common defenses that a criminal defense lawyer may raise if you have been charged with arson.
Arguing There Was a Lack of Criminal Intent
One of the defenses a criminal defense lawyer may raise if you are charged with arson is arguing that there was a lack of criminal intent. For example, if you accidentally dropped a candle and started a fire, there is no argument you started the fire. The fire was started by accident without any criminal intent. The prosecutor must convince a judge or jury you had criminal intent to find you guilty of arson, so raising this defense may prevent that from happening.
Showing That Another Party May Be Responsible For the Fire
Another defense a criminal attorney may use if you have been charged with arson is the false accusation defense. Your attorney may argue that someone else had the means, the motive, and the opportunity to set the fire. This is a great way to raise reasonable doubt that you were the individual who actually set the fire.
Getting Experts to Testify the Fire Was Not Started By Arson
Improbability is another criminal defense used for arson cases. Improbability means that it is improbable that the fire was started by an arsonist. Your criminal defense attorney may bring in experts who may state that they think the fire was caused by another source, such as poor electrical wiring or a clogged dryer vent. This raises doubt in the minds of a judge or jury that arson even occurred.
If you have been charged with arson, a criminal defense attorney will come up with defenses that may help to convince a judge or jury that there is reasonable doubt in your case. This may result in the charges against you being dismissed or not being convicted of the arson charge. Arson cases are complex, so it is recommended that you hire an attorney as soon as you suspect charges may be forthcoming or quickly after you have been charged. Reach out to local criminal defense lawyers to schedule a consultation if you have been charged with arson.