How to Pick the Right Georgia Attorneys When You Face Charges for Arson
When it comes to arson charges, they vary from serious to much more serious. Though classified as first, second, or third degree, they are all prosecuted as felonies. Sentencing varies based upon the degree of the charge. If you are facing potential arson charges, you need to know how each degree is different, and what to look for in the right legal team for your defense.
First Degree Arson
Under O.C.G.A. § 16-7-60, a person commits the offense of arson in the first degree when, by means of fire or explosive, he or she knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another person to damage any dwelling, building, vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, railroad craft or other structure. This includes structures that are vacant or occupied.
In addition, charges will be brought in the first degree if it is proven that an individual had intent to defraud an insurance company, defraud the rights a spouse or co-owner, or committed the act of arson when it was reasonably foreseeable that human life might be endangered. In addition, an individual will face first-degree charges if he or she, during the commission of a felony, causes damage to property by means of fire or explosives. First degree arson charges carry up to twenty years of jail time, as well as fines of up to $50,000.
Second Degree Arson
The criteria for second degree arson charges as defined by O.C.G.A. § 16-7-61 are similar to first degree charges, but there must be an absence of any risk of incurring bodily injury to inhabitants of the damaged structure. Second degree charges are usually assessed to those who aid and abet the act of arson. Prison sentencing can range from one month to ten years, with fines of up to $25,000.
Third Degree Arson
Third degree arson as defined by O.C.G.A. § 16-7-62 involves damage to personal property with a value greater than $25. If an individual knowing damages the personal property of another by means of fire or explosives, or helps another person to do so, they will face third degree arson charges. Third degree arson charges are still prosecuted as a felony, and prison sentencing can range from one month to five years, with fines of up to $10,000.
In any arson case, the prosecution must be able to prove that the accused had malicious intent when committing the act in question. In many cases, fires and explosions are the result of an accident, an oversight, or negligence, and charges may be brought against an individual without a full exploration of facts. If you are facing arson charges, it is critical to secure knowledgeable legal representation as soon as possible; all arson cases are prosecuted as felonies and can carry heavy prison sentencing and fines.
If you’re facing arson charges, schedule a free consultation to have your criminal case reviewed by knowledgeable, proactive lawyers who will act as your advocates.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.