An arson charge is not something you should take lightly. Not only is this a felony offense, but it can change the trajectory of your life. Regardless of whether or not this was intentional or an accident, connecting with an Oklahoma City felony defense lawyer is critical to protecting yourself. Keep reading to learn more about this offense and whether or not there are any potential defenses you can use for these matters.

What Is Arson?

Any time someone deliberately attempts to or successfully sets fire to property, they are committing arson. Generally, the intention must be malicious.

Unfortunately, there are several reasons that people may commit this crime. In many instances, this is used to cover up the commission of a crime, such as a murder. Less malicious reasons include committing insurance fraud, while others feel a compulsion to do so because of mental illness. Regardless of the motivation, this crime is considered egregious.

What Are the Penalties for This Crime?

The penalties for this crime will depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense. However, it’s imperative to understand that any arson charge is a felony offense. The classifications and penalties are as follows:

  • Fourth-degree – Fourth-degree arson is charged to anyone who attempts to set fire to property worth $50 or more. A fourth-degree arson charge warrants a fine of up to $5,000 and ten years in prison.
  • Third-degree – This offense is charged to anyone who successfully sets fire to property worth $50 or more. Being charged with third-degree arson carries a fine of up to $10,000 and 15 years in jail.
  • Second-degree – You will be charged with a second-degree felony if you set fire to an unoccupied building. However, if the building is unoccupied but typically used as a dwelling or for lodging, you may face a first-degree felony. This charge warrants up to $20,000 in fines and the potential for up to 25 years in prison.
  • First-degree – Those charged with a first-degree felony set fire to a building or dwelling that was occupied by at least one person at the time of the fire. If you are charged with first-degree arson, you will face up to 35 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

Can a Lawyer Help Defend Me?

If you are charged with a felony arson charge, understanding the potential defenses you may be able to use is critical to avoiding charges.

One defense is that the fire was not intended to be arson. You may be able to show that you lost control of the fire, which does not mean you acted recklessly. Generally, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally started the fire to successfully convict you of this offense.

Additionally, you may be able to prove that the fire was set intentionally but that the property you were destroying was your own. So long as you never made any attempt to collect insurance funds and took reasonable steps to keep the fire controlled during the burning, you may be able to avoid charges.

When facing criminal charges, the Jones Firm, PLLC, is ready to represent you. We understand how severe a felony conviction can be, which is why we are dedicated to doing everything possible to assist you through these challenging times. Connect with our team today to learn how we can fight for you.