Arson can be a very difficult crime to be proven against you depending on the circumstances of the incident.
In order for a prosecutor to convict you of arson, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was the burning of a dwelling house (real property or commercial property) or personal property that was maliciously or willfully set on fire by a person.
When you are facing criminal charges such as arson in the Grand Rapids area, it is important to have the representation of an aggressive criminal defense lawyer.
The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan provides quality criminal defense for all people charged with arson.
Our lawyers will work hard for you and fight to get you the best results possible if you are charged with arson.
The Penalties vary for the crime of arson depending on the value of the property, the damage to the property and the type of property set on fire.
Arson can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum time of incarceration can range from 93 days to 10 years or even 20 years.
In arson cases, the evidence is often destroyed in the fire. Firefighters may also destroy the evidence in the process of putting out the flames that would mask the origin of the fire. Investigators may be able to determine if an accelerant was used but unable to trace who was responsible. Lack of motive and opportunity is a key defense. Arson is a very difficult crime to prove!
Because arson can carry serious penalties, it is important to speak with an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney right away!
The defendant is charged with the crime of burning a dwelling house or any of its contents. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that the defendant burned [describe property alleged]. The term “burn” in this case means setting fire to or doing anything that results in the starting of a fire, or helping or persuading someone else to set a fire. If any part of the [describe property] is burned, [no matter how small,] that is all that is necessary to count as a burning; the property does not have to be completely destroyed. [The (describe property) is not burned if it is merely blackened by smoke, but it is burned if it is charred so that any part of it is destroyed.]
Second, that at the time of the burning the building was a dwelling house. A dwelling house is a structure that was actually being lived in or that reasonably could have been lived in at the time of the fire. [A business that is located very close to and used in connection with a dwelling may be considered to be a dwelling.] [It does not matter whether the defendant owned or used the building.][*]
Third, that when the defendant burned the dwelling or any of its contents, [he/she] intended to burn the dwelling or contents or intentionally committed an act that created a very high risk of burning the dwelling or contents and that, while committing the act, the defendant knew of that risk and disregarded it.
750.72 Arson, First Degree
(1) A person who willfully or maliciously burns, damages, or destroys by fire or explosive any of the following or its contents is guilty of first-degree arson:
(a) A multi-unit building or structure in which 1 or more units of the building are a dwelling, regardless of whether any of the units are occupied, unoccupied, or vacant at the time of the fire or explosion.
(b) Any building or structure or other real property if the fire or explosion results in physical injury to any individual.
(c) A mine.
(2) Subsection (1) applies regardless of whether the person owns the dwelling, building, structure, or mine or its contents.
(3) The first degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00 or 3 times the value of the property damaged or destroyed, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.
Attorney Shawn Haff
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