Facing Arson Charges With Strong Legal Representation
If you have been accused of arson, you have the right to fight the charges. An experienced attorney can help. At Pearson & Paris, P.C., we have more than 50 years of combined legal experience that we will use in your defense. Perhaps more importantly, our top criminal defense attorney is a former senior prosecutor who knows how district attorneys handle these cases. That knowledge allows us to create effective strategies ranging from negotiation to courtroom battles.
Whether in the Denver area or anywhere in Colorado, arson generally occurs when a person sets fire to, burns or causes to be burned either the property of another or his own property with an intent to defraud, usually an insurance provider.
Possible Consequences For Arson
When arson damages or destroys a building or occupied structure, it is most commonly charged as a class 3 felony, which carries a possible sentence of four to 12 years in prison, but as much as 24 years if the court finds the presence of exceptional circumstances, with a mandatory parole period of five years. A conviction for this type of arson is subject to mandatory minimum sentencing of 10 years in the Department of Corrections.
Possible Defenses For Arson
Whether a person is charged with arson of a building or occupied structure, arson of one’s own property for the purpose of seeking insurance proceeds or some other type of arson, the general approach to defending arson remains the same. First, the statute requires that the person acted “knowingly” in setting the fire. Therefore, an accidental fire starting is not generally chargeable as a felony arson offense. A fire that spreads to a building or residence may fall under this category of an accidental fire. Second, in most cases a qualified arson investigator may have to be consulted to oversee the forensic investigation that the fire chief, fire marshal or law enforcement investigators may conduct. The area of arson investigation is a very specialized field, and extreme care must be taken in preserving and analyzing evidence of accelerants, spread patterns, areas of origin and lightning as a possible cause. A defense may then develop that the defendant did not have access or opportunity to set the fire in the manner alleged.
The remaining defenses that may be applied in a second-degree murder case apply with equal force to those that may apply in any other criminal case. This includes an analysis of any violation of constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, the right to have any searches and seizures based on probable cause, a proper warrant, and the right to due process in the proper preservation of evidence that may be used against you. Many other defenses are available that rely on scrutinizing and exposing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, such as biased or incompetent witnesses, flawed crime scene investigation, flawed administration and procedures in collecting breath, blood or urine for forensic testing, incompetent computer evidence, flawed photo lineups and inaccurate crime scene/accident reconstructions.
It is important that you hire a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you in an arson case in Littleton, Jefferson County, or across Colorado.