Broward County criminal attorney James Weick is a major felony crime defense lawyer with William Moore Criminal Defense. He focuses his legal career on defending criminal offenses that carry lengthy to life prison sentences.
Recently he was asked about the crime of arson in Florida. A crime that has been perpetrated by demographics stemming from organized crime to grade school children.
The culpability of an individual accused of arson varies greatly from case to case explains Broward County criminal attorney WE I CK. In Florida we simply would not view a teenager who lit a fire in an abandoned house for fun in the same way that we w
ould an adult who burned a structure for insurance proceeds. Unfortunately given the nature of this crime, Broward County criminal Court judges do not give culpability the same weight as they would to other crimes. This is because of the great risk of harm or death to innocent people. An out of control fire can cause massive injury and death if the location of that fire is an apartment building or commercial structure during peak hours.
Arson is not viewed as simply setting fire to property according to Broward County criminal attorney Jim Weick. It is the intentional destruction or damaging of property by burning or setting it on fire recklessly and without regard. One of the things I learned early in my career as an attorney is that most people are incapable of understanding the potential for catastrophic destruction that could stem from simply burning the side of an unoccupied structure. Criminal attorney white further explai
ned that a charring or darkening of any part of that structure or automobile meets criteria to establish the criminal case of arson in Florida.
It is not necessary for the state to prove that a defendant actually had the intention of burning a building down. Blackening a small section of concrete wall will suffice. Just about everybody is shocked to find that a relatively minute amount of actual burning is required to be charged with such a serious felony. You can’t help but feel bad for these people who lacked intent to commit arson yet get arrested for same. It’s very difficult to inform them as to the standard sentence should the state obtain a conviction. Even if you know as a criminal defense attorney, that you will be successful in defending their case based on the facts and circumstances.
Broward criminal attorney Weick followed up by explaining how the type of defendant has changed somewhat over the last decade when it comes to arson cases. In the early 2000’s I represented a few people for this offense who really were just goofing around which led to a fire. One was in a dorm another was at a football game. People do stupid things when they get drunk. Regardless, what I am seeing more of in these Times are impulsive actions by individuals who are angry and under the stress of some current event. For example last month I was contacted by the mother of a model high school student who upon believing his girlfriend was cheating on him poured solvent into a container let it like a Molotov cocktail and dropped it into the sunroof of the car parked in front of her apartment. I would have been shocked but for the fact that it was the third one like this that I had been contacted for in the past few years. Three young good kids from good homes who literally set fire to things because of some
perceived domestic situation. These are difficult cases for the defense and prosecution to litigate. Deep down a prosecutor does not want to send the high school quarterback to prison because she set fire to a golf cart upon learning that his girlfriend was cheating on him.
We all know that burning your own property can be considered arson. That is what people do in cases where they want to collect on an insurance scam. I think that most people know that the fact that a perpetrator owned the property in which he or she burned is not a defense to arson. Similarly where somebody is killed as a result of an accused setting fire to property, the fact that they did not intend to kill anyone will not absolve them from being charged claims Broward criminal lawyer Weick.
What is the most common defense to arson?
Defending on the ground that the burning of property was not intentional can be very powerful defense evidence especially where the best experts are brought in claims criminal lawyer James Weick. I know experts who could look at a pile of ashes and tell you what time the blaze started why it ignited how long it burned for and why it took the path that it did. But for every one of those state experts I have 10 more reputable and skilled investigators that clearly and concisely convince any reasonable person that to know for certain who set a fire absent seeing them is next to impossible. Most Broward County criminal lawyers, like me, feel really uncomfortable about people getting convicted and spending time in prison as a result of another individuals opinion.