Even if no one is hurt, fires pose a deadly dangerous risk; hence setting a fire is one of the most severe felonies. A person convicted of arson can face up to 20 years in state prison, and simply attempting to start a fire can result in ten years in prison.
To know how to beat an arson case, it is necessary first to comprehend what the state must prove. There are various sorts of arson – dwelling house, building, motor vehicle, and so on – but they all share the following characteristics that the DA must prove:
- A fire broke out.
- You started it, or you assisted, advised, employed, or recruited the person who did.
- You planned to create a fire.
- You did that on purpose. This suggests you had a wrongful intent or that you meant to set the fire and did so without legal justification.
Most of the time, the third and fourth elements rise and fall together, and whatever confirms one will also prove the other. Typically, arson defences fall into three categories:
- Lack of Intent
- Lack Of Evidence
- Diminished Capacity: you were mentally ill or drunk to the point where you couldn’t develop the intent or malice necessary by law to conduct arson.
Lack Of Intent
A prosecution must establish that you intended to set a fire that caused destruction if you face arson charges. Unfortunately, the burden of proof is extremely tough to meet in this case. However, there may be a way to demonstrate that you accidentally sparked a fire. If your lawyer can prove this, you may be able to get the charges dropped.
The prosecutor must prove intent, which is a challenging task. The prosecutor has no case unless the intent is proven. A judge may decide to dismiss the accusations entirely.
Lack Of Evidence
Once again, all court matters necessitate a high burden of proof. This can be especially tough during a fire. Even a tiny fire has the potential to destroy evidence. There may be no trace of your involvement after arson. The prosecutor focuses on hypotheses in court rather than providing irrefutable facts. Frequently, there is insufficient proof to support his case.
Another factor for the absence of evidence is a lack of witnesses. Although some people may have witnessed the fire, there are rarely witnesses to the fire’s inception. The prosecutor has no one to testify that you sparked the fire because no one was present at the site.
In an insanity defence, the defence presents proof that the defendant did commit the offence but was so mentally ill that they either did not comprehend what they were doing was wrong or were unable to control their behaviour. Winning an insanity defence is risky because you could end up civilly committed to a mental facility even if you avoid prison. However, in certain situations, civil commitment may be avoided.
Intoxication is another type of decreased capacity defence. Intoxication can be voluntary or involuntary. Involuntary intoxication occurs when you did not plan to become intoxicated–you were drugged, you drank something you did not know was alcoholic, or you had an unexpected reaction to a medication you took. Involuntary intoxication occurs when you are so heavily intoxicated that you are no longer in control of yourself. Beyond that, the state cannot prove that you purposely and maliciously caused a fire because you were so incapacitated that you couldn’t do anything on purpose.
A prosecution may utilise science to explain how a fire started. This usually entails expert testimony. Those experts, however, are not always correct. It may be possible to show that the science they give as evidence is incorrect. If your lawyer can find his own expert to refute the science, you may have a positive outcome.
At Franks & Rechenberg, P.C, we take our cases very seriously. To learn more about how we can represent you in your case, contact us today.