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If you start a fire or cause an explosion in a home or any inhabitable structure, you can face a charge of arson. It does not matter if you own the building or know that the building is vacant, if you intentionally damage it with fire or explosives, you will face a felony charge. This is very serious and requires the attention of a St. Louis criminal defense attorney.
The penalties you may face for arson include several factors, including:
- Whether the building was occupied
- There was anyone near it
- The building was used for methamphetamine production
- Who has an interest in the building
If a building is completely unoccupied with no one around, it will be a Class C felony. If the building was occupied or if another person or company had an interest in the building (such as an insurance company) it is a Class B felony. If someone suffers a serious injury or if the fire started as a consequence of meth production, it is a Class A felony.
Because this crime requires a large amount of scientific evidence and observations at the scene, it is important to hire a St. Louis criminal defense attorney with experience handling arson claims. In knowing what to look for in the evidence, a qualified lawyer may be able to spot flaws in the investigation or develop a competent defense theory from the evidence.
Arson in the First Degree in Missouri
Arson in First Degree, R.S.Mo. 569.040, arises when a person is charged with intentionally sets a fire to a structure with someone in it or in close proximity, thereby creating a danger of death or serious physical injury. He or she can also face this charge if a fire starts during the production of methamphetamine. If a person is charged with first degree arson, they face a Class B felony. If the fire resulted in death or serious injury for another (or if the fire was a product of meth production) it will be a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
Because these charges rely on scientific evidence to prove how a fire started and how it spread, it is important to hire a St. Louis criminal defense attorney who has experience handling these cases and knows how to examine the evidence against you. It is also important to work with attorneys who have their own forensic experts who can give their analysis of a given fire which may show that a fire was not intentional or started on its own. This way, you can be sure you are getting the representation you deserve to fight these serious criminal charges.
Arson in the 2nd Degree in Missouri
Simply setting a fire to a structure that is not your own can lead to a charge of Arson in the Second Degree, R.S.Mo. 569.050. This crime requires that the police prove that a person started a fire for unlawful purposes. This is a Class C felony unless someone was injured or killed, in which case it is a Class B felony.
This law protects people who burn their own structures for lawful reasons or for those who burn a building that no one else has an interest in (an insurance company, for instance). If you wish to raise this defense at trial, it is an affirmative defense and your St. Louis criminal defense attorney will bear the burden of proof for it to be successful. This will require an attorney with experience handling these complicated cases.
By aggressively challenging all the evidence against you, you can be sure you getting the best representation possible during this difficult time. Arson charges require an attorney with a high degree of skill, so be sure that any attorney you hire has handled these cases before. This will give you the best chance possible at a positive resolution for your particular case.
St. Louis criminal defense attorney Richard R. Lozano has been handling cases involving arson since 1994. He puts this experience to work for you, aggressively fighting any and all criminal charges you may face. He has helped clients in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, and Franklin County facing serious felony charges and has worked to get them the best possible outcomes for their respective cases.
For a free consultation regarding your arson charge or for any felony charges you may be facing, contact St. Louis criminal defense attorney Richard R. Lozano today at (314) 456-4567.