Texas Arson Defense Lawyer
What is Arson?
Arson is defined by Section 28.02 of the Texas Penal Code. Broadly, it involves the intentional starting of a fire or causing of an explosion that damages or destroys property. The law of arson includes a number of distinctions between the type of intent and property or damages involved, but any level of arson is a felony. Generally, the differences may be stated as follows:
If the arson is alleged to have been committed with the specific intent to kill, it is a capital murder, the sentence for an adult convicted of which is either life without parole or death. If someone dies or is seriously injured as a result of arson and the specific intent was not to kill but to destroy or damage, then whether charged as arson or felony murder, it is a first degree felony and carries a range of punishment of five to ninety-nine years or life in prison and up to a ten thousand dollar fine.
An arson intended to cause and causing only property damage is a second degree felony which carries a range of punishment of two to twenty years in prison and up to a ten thousand dollar fine. However if the damaged building is a habitation or place of worship, it is a first degree felony. An arson, where the fire was intentionally set but the damage or injuries were recklessly caused, is a state jail felony punishable by no less than six months and no more than two years in a state jail facility.
It is important to also note that fire can be found to have been used as a deadly weapon which may enhance penalties including affecting the possibility of probation or parole. Fires determined to be arson are often the basis of charges of insurance fraud, as well.
When It Comes to Criminal Defense, Experience and Expertise Count!
Fire and arson investigations have been revolutionized in the past few decades. The latest version of the NFPA 921, the treatise which sets the industry standard for professional fire investigations, was released in early 2011 with a revised chapter on cause. Much like the previous edition’s revision of the chapter on origin, it now follows the scientific method. Most conspicuously, negative corpus, basing a hypothesis on the absence of any supportive evidence, is now considered improper. In other words, the “since we can’t figure out what might have started the fire, it must be arson..” method of fire investigation is no longer valid.
If none of these terms mean anything to you, don't be surprised. Fire and Explosion investigations are a highly specialized and evolving area of science that many professionals, including those charged with performing the investigations, have a hard time staying current with. Don't let an obsolete or flawed investigation ruin your life.
There are numerous state, city, county, and federal agencies that may be involved in an arson investigation. Private experts hired by insurance companies also conduct an investigation. Do not let their "independent" status fool you, insurance company investigators often work hand in hand with law enforcement. If you are suspected of arson, you may not even know it and few, if any, of these investigators will be on your side. However, because these officials often wear plain clothes or the uniform of a fire agency rather than a police department, individuals suspected of arson often unknowingly provide evidence that may be turned against them or waive rights they might later wish they had asserted.
In the aftermath of a fire in which a persons' car, home, and belongings were destroyed or a loved one seriously injured or lost, people are distracted, emotional, and vulnerable. It is often difficult for them to imagine that they could be accused of setting the very fire they have just survived. It happened to a sitting Texas Supreme Court justice and his wife a few years ago.
Legal Help for Your Arson Investigation or Case
If you are suspected of or charged with arson or a related crime, it is critical that you seek the assistance of someone experienced in arson investigations and defense. I have the knowledge and experience to help you through the investigation, including identifying flaws in the investigation and working with experts to assist in your defense. As a dedicated Houston criminal attorney, I am passionate about
criminal defense cases and work tirelessly to build compelling cases for every client.
Simply because a lawyer has an arson page on their website, it doesn't mean they have experience competently defending people suspected or accused of arson. My name is Tate Williams and I have represented people in arson and related homicide investigations and prosecutions for years, through trial when necessary. If you have been accused of committing arson, contact a Houston arson defense attorney for legal advocacy in your case.