If you have been charged with arson in Boston, it is defined as a willful and malicious burning or charring of property. Due to their serious nature, Arson charges are almost always classified as a felony and may even be a federal crime. Arson has the potential to cause severe injuries or death to those involved, which could dramatically increase the penalties you face.
It’s common in Massachusetts to be charged with one of three degrees of arson. The first degree occurs when a building is burned, and you know that someone is currently occupying it. A second-degree arson charge is expected when you burn an empty building without people in it that may be immolated. Third-degree arson may be charged when you burn an area or property destroyed by the fire with no one else present.
Due to their specific nature and severity, all arson cases may be defended differently. Some common arson defenses do exist, but arson, in general, is legally complex to support. In the court’s eyes, as an arsonist, you pose a massive threat to all opposing factions, as you circumvent all common forms of defense, you cannot be detected and cannot be killed by any form of protection, such as a bodyguard.
In an arson defense, it’s vital to note that a fire can only be considered arson after all other accidental causes have been ruled out. This means that arson investigators must prove that you caused a fire deliberately and with harmful intent. Therefore, arson can be challenging to prove and prosecute in court.
One strong defense that your experienced arson lawyer may use is that you had an alibi. Your lawyer will refute all the evidence and keep as much evidence circumstantial as possible. These actions would have the effect of helping your case.
Also, having insurance is not enough to prove that you committed arson. In many instances, a knowledgeable arson lawyer can throw out the motive of insurance fraud from your case altogether.
How Is My Arson Case Usually Investigated in Massachusetts?
All arson cases are legally complex and can take months or even years to investigate thoroughly. Law enforcement specialists may use chemical analyses to find the fire’s origin. Arson can, at times, be used to cover up other violent cases, including murder. However, in many cases, arson can be used to commit insurance fraud. Insurance fraud being a common motive, insurance companies typically do a detailed and exceedingly thorough job of investigating fires that may seem suspicious.
All arson cases, however, may have some similar circumstances, but the following may constitute prima facie evidence of arson:
o If the fire started simultaneously in various parts of the building, dwelling, or establishment.
o If the building, residence, or property is over-insured at much more than its actual value at the time of the issuance of the policy.
So, investigating arson cases can be a long, tedious, and legally complex matter. This can work to your benefit, but many times not. Your best defense is to consult with a knowledgeable, professional arson lawyer that will follow the investigation closely and help you every step of the way to strategize your best legal defense based on the specific details of your case.
As the Investigation Proceeds, How Does the State Decide On the Arson Charges
Usually, the charges you might face depend on the structure’s occupancy at the time and whether insurance fraud was the reason behind the actual act. For example, if you set fire to an occupied building in downtown Boston, you will face a far more severe arson charge than if you burned down an abandoned farmhouse. Additionally, the prosecution commonly must prove the following:
o You, as the defendant, are personally responsible for the fire and resulting damage. This responsibility could be through direct physical involvement or by aiding or soliciting someone else who started the actual fire.
o You must have caused the fire intentionally and not by accident.
o You acted out of any unlawful or malicious motive, or your actions have no legally lawful excuse.
It’s mandatory to remember that arson is an exceedingly severe criminal charge. Also, if your actions took place or targeted federal property, you could be charged with a federal crime. Federal arson convictions can be life-changing and send you to prison for up to 25 years. If the act additionally caused the endangerment of another person’s life, you could even receive life in prison.
This sentence makes another sobering reason to consult with the best Boston arson lawyer you can find and immediately begin to stay ahead of your case from its very beginning.
How Can Hiring a Boston Criminal Lawyer Help Me With My Arson Charge?
Being charged with a heightened criminal charge such as arson can be a stressful and legally overwhelming process. Obtaining the proper, experienced, professional help will not only help you in the overall legal process, but it will also help to give you peace of mind during the entire event.
Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer is absolutely the best thing you can do to help you emerge from this situation with your life intact. A criminal defense arson attorney will help you build the strong defense you need and give you sound, professional advice on what you should do (and not do) throughout your case.
Mostly, arson cases are charged as criminal offenses and involve weeks or months of investigation and preparation for you to build the best defense possible. The case will include witnesses, medical documentation, engineering documentation, information from the arson investigators, and much more. You cannot and should not take this charge lightly, and working with a detailed, empathetic, and thorough Boston criminal defense lawyer is virtually mandatory.
I Have Been Charged With Arson in Boston, What Should I Do First?
You must acknowledge that you have no time to waste. This is the type of charge that could change you and your families, life forever. You must find and consult with the best arson lawyers in your area. The firm of Toland Law, LLC is an award-winning arson crimes firm and has successfully represented many Boston clients over the years. They have the experience, knowledge, and attention to legal detail your case requires. Consult with them first, and you have the absolute best chance of getting through this positively and with the best legal outcome possible.