When you watch shows like Chicago Fire or Rescue Me, it is easy to get the impression that the offense of Arson is only committed by sociopathic firebugs who are in love with fire, or failing businessmen attempting to commit insurance fraud. However, the perpetrators of arson may also come from the ranks of mischievous teens setting a fire in a dumpster, or negligent brush and trash burners who fail to take the necessary precautions when setting a fire and don’t report it promptly. Regardless of who the offender is, arson is a serious criminal charge.
Arson in Pennsylvania is divided into seven separate subsections under Section 3301 of the Crimes Code. Those categories are arson endangering persons, arson endangering property, arson, reckless burning or exploding, failure to control or report dangerous fires, and possession of explosive or incendiary materials or devices. These statutes cover everything ranging from the classic scenario where an offender burns someone’s house or business down, to the uncontrolled burning of brush.
In order to prove a person guilty of arson, the Commonwealth must show that there was a fire, the fire was set intentionally, and that the defendant is responsible. Unfortunately for many offenders, the fact that the fire was not intended to spread beyond a limited area is not necessarily fully exculpatory in an arson case. Also, in cases where the fire is intentionally set to endanger a person or property, a person can be convicted of dangerous burning even if no damage to a person or property actually occurs.
The repercussions and severity of arson charges can vary significantly depending on the circumstances, the intent of the offender, the property burned, and the people potentially put in danger by the fire. A charge of dangerous burning, for example, may just be a summary offense. However, in the case of a fire that potentially kills people, you can be looking at murder related arson charges and a full spectrum of arson related felonies. What subsection an offender ultimately ends up convicted of is heavily dependent on the facts surrounding the fire, and their interpretation in a court of law.
Due to the severe and varying penalties surrounding charges of arson, it is important that anyone facing these charges retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight on their behalf. When the heat is on, Attorney Frank Walker can fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced, and prepare you with a strong defense going forward. Don’t get burnt by facing court without an attorney. Call Walker Law today.
Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense, Super Lawyer and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.
If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation following a serious accident or injury.