Knowledgeable San Antonio Lawyer Defends Arson Suspects
Skilled Texas attorney handles criminal charges involving intentional fires
Arson is a serious charge, but merely because a fire or explosion occurs does not mean that it is intentional or that the police have caught the person who caused it. At Kevin L. Collins, P.C., in San Antonio, I have more than 27 years of experience as a prosecutor and defense lawyer. As a board-certified criminal law attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, I am well equipped to understand the technicalities of arson charges and to challenge the evidence on which arson prosecutions often rely. You can count on me to provide a tenacious defense no matter the circumstances involved.
What is arson under state law?
Arson requires that someone start a fire or cause an explosion, but because some fires and explosions are reasonable or even necessary, even an intentional fire is only arson under certain circumstances. For instance, a fire or explosion might be arson if it:
- Is intended to destroy or damage vegetation, fences or structures on open-space land, unless it is part of a controlled burning of the open-space land
- Is intended to destroy or damage a building, home or land in an incorporated city or town, unless it is permitted by ordinance
- Is intended to destroy or damage a building, home or land that the defendant knows is insured, is covered by a mortgage or other security interest or is on someone else’s property
- Recklessly kills or injures another person or damages his or her property
- Is started or caused recklessly during the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance, such as in a meth lab
The fact that a fire is extinguished or simply goes out without causing any harm will not prevent it from being arson if the act of arson began the fire. If you are accused of arson, I can review the facts of your case and determine whether or not the fire or explosion is really arson.
How is arson punished under state law?
The punishment for arson also depends on the circumstances. Most arson is punishable by a prison term of two to 20 years. However, intentional fires that cause personal injury or death or that are intended to destroy or damage a home or place of assembly or worship are punishable by five to 99 years or a life sentence. On the other hand, an intentional fire that recklessly causes personal injury, death or damage to buildings but is otherwise not a violation of the arson statutes is punishable by 180 days to two years in jail. A fire or explosion recklessly caused by the manufacture of controlled substances is punished the same way, unless it kills or injures someone; in that case, the sentence may increase to two to 10 years. Even if the prosecution can prove that you committed arson, I might be able to reduce the potential punishment by disproving some elements of the state’s case or by plea bargaining.
Arson as a federal crime
Arson may also be a federal crime if the defendant willfully or maliciously sets a fire on federal land, on an American ship or aircraft over the high seas, and in certain other circumstances. The punishment for arson under federal law is up to 25 years in prison and/or either a cost of repair or replacement or a hefty fine. If you are charged with arson in federal court, you face a serious charge, but I have the experience and ability to offer the vigorous and able representation you deserve.
Contact a San Antonio arson defense attorney
If you are charged with or under investigation for arson, you need the right attorney in your corner. Contact Kevin L. Collins, P.C. in San Antonio, Texas by calling 210-598-8629 or contacting me online.